Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Skeletal Muscle Disease.


Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) describes the development and use of MRI to quantify physical, chemical, and/or biological properties of living systems. Neuromuscular diseases often exhibit a temporally varying, spatially heterogeneous, and multi-faceted pathology. The goal of this protocol is to characterize this pathology using qMRI methods. The MRI acquisition protocol begins with localizer images (used to locate the position of the body and tissue of interest within the MRI system), quality control measurements of relevant magnetic field distributions, and structural imaging for general anatomical characterization. The qMRI portion of the protocol includes measurements of the longitudinal and transverse relaxation time constants (T1 and T2, respectively). Also acquired are diffusion-tensor MRI data, in which water diffusivity is measured and used to infer pathological processes such as edema. Quantitative magnetization transfer imaging is used to characterize the relative tissue content of macromolecular and free water protons. Lastly, fat-water MRI methods are used to characterize fibro-adipose tissue replacement of muscle. In addition to describing the data acquisition and analysis procedures, this paper also discusses the potential problems associated with these methods, the analysis and interpretation of the data, MRI safety, and strategies for artifact reduction and protocol optimization.