High-resolution diffusion tensor imaging of the human kidneys using a free-breathing, multi-slice, targeted field of view approach

Rachel W. Chan*, Constantin Von Deuster, Christian T. Stoeck, Jack Harmer, Shonit Punwani, Navin Ramachandran, Sebastian Kozerke, David Atkinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Fractional anisotropy (FA) obtained by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can be used to image the kidneys without any contrast media. FA of the medulla has been shown to correlate with kidney function. It is expected that higher spatial resolution would improve the depiction of small structures within the kidney. However, the achievement of high spatial resolution in renal DTI remains challenging as a result of respiratory motion and susceptibility to diffusion imaging artefacts. In this study, a targeted field of view (TFOV) method was used to obtain high-resolution FA maps and colour-coded diffusion tensor orientations, together with measures of the medullary and cortical FA, in 12 healthy subjects. Subjects were scanned with two implementations (dual and single kidney) of a TFOV DTI method. DTI scans were performed during free breathing with a navigator-triggered sequence. Results showed high consistency in the greyscale FA, colour-coded FA and diffusion tensors across subjects and between dual- and single-kidney scans, which have in-plane voxel sizes of 2×2mm2 and 1.2×1.2mm2, respectively. The ability to acquire multiple contiguous slices allowed the medulla and cortical FA to be quantified over the entire kidney volume. The mean medulla and cortical FA values were 0.38±0.017 and 0.21±0.019, respectively, for the dual-kidney scan, and 0.35±0.032 and 0.20±0.014, respectively, for the single-kidney scan. The mean FA between the medulla and cortex was significantly different (p<0.001) for both dual- and single-kidney implementations. High-spatial-resolution DTI shows promise for improving the characterization and non-invasive assessment of kidney function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1300-1312
Number of pages13
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
Issue number11
Early online date15 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Free breathing
  • Human kidney
  • Multi-slice imaging
  • Targeted field of view


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