Biomedical Imaging Technology Center
Whereas MRI allows us to visualize anatomy with exquisite tissue contrast and is an indispensable tool in clinical diagnosis, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) is an important research tool that can be used to probe in vivo biochemistry noninvasively. A key ingredient of in vivo MRS is spatial localization, which can be achieved via single voxel spectroscopy (SVS) and/or spectroscopic imaging (SI). In SVS, spatially selective RF pulses are used to restrict the resultant spectral signal to a single voxel (volume element); this voxel can be inappropriately shaped and placed to obtain spectrum from a desired region. SI is a method that allows us to provide spectra on a voxel-by-voxel basis, i.e. an image of spectra. Examples of both techniques are illustrated below. Because of its high sensitivity, proton is the most studied nucleus in MRS. But other nuclei of biological interest, including P-31, C-13, N-15, F-19, Li-7, and Na-23, are also used for in vivo MRS.
To date, MRS is being used to for a variety of applications where the availability of in vivo biochemical information is of great importance. In applications to cancer, MRS is being used for tumor characterization, tumor detection and treatment monitoring. In the brain, MRS is being used to study normal metabolism and to establish biological basis of neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Our current research in this area focuses on the development of spectroscopic imaging methods and application of MRS to study in vivo chemistry and to prostate cancer.
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