Inert fluorinated gas MRI: a new pulmonary imaging modality
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Fluorine-19 ((19)F) MRI of the lungs using inhaled inert fluorinated gases can potentially provide high quality images of the lungs that are similar in quality to those from hyperpolarized (HP) noble gas MRI. Inert fluorinated gases have the advantages of being nontoxic, abundant, and inexpensive compared with HP gases. Due to the high gyromagnetic ratio of (19)F, there is sufficient thermally polarized signal for imaging, and averaging within a single breath-hold is possible due to short longitudinal relaxation times. Therefore, the gases do not need to be hyperpolarized prior to their use in MRI. This eliminates the need for an expensive polarizer and expensive isotopes. Inert fluorinated gas MRI of the lungs has been previously demonstrated in animals, and more recently in healthy volunteers and patients with lung diseases. The ongoing improvements in image quality demonstrate the potential of (19)F MRI for visualizing the distribution of ventilation in human lungs and detecting functional biomarkers. In this brief review, the development of inert fluorinated gas MRI, current progress, and future prospects are discussed. The current state of HP noble gas MRI is also briefly discussed in order to provide context to the development of this new imaging modality. Overall, this may be a viable clinical imaging modality that can provide useful information for the diagnosis and management of chronic respiratory diseases.
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