Magnetic resonance imaging of stationary blood: a review

Med Phys. 1987 Nov-Dec;14(6):903-13. doi: 10.1118/1.595994.


The magnetic resonance imaging appearance of blood, as with other body tissues, is affected strongly by magnetic relaxation rates of the water protons. For blood containing only oxyhemoglobin, as for most tissues, the relaxation times are determined by diamagnetic effects related primarily to protein content. However blood containing either deoxyhemoglobin or methemoglobin exhibits additional paramagnetic relaxation effects, which have important consequences for magnetic resonance imaging of hematomas. First, the field inhomogeneity created by the concentration of paramagnetism in the red blood cells lowers the effective T2. This effect depends on field strength, and so is more striking at high fields, and is greater if gradient echoes are used. In fact, the observation of a difference in T2 with the two different echo methods provides an unequivocal indication of field inhomogeneity such as is produced by erythrocytes. A second paramagnetic relaxation effect is the direct interaction of protons with the electron spin of methemoglobin, which markedly lowers both T1 and T2. This effect is important in the imaging of hematomas that are at least several days old, after significant conversion of hemoglobin to the met form has taken place.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hematoma / diagnosis
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Regional Blood Flow*


  • Hemoglobins
  • Oxygen