Monument Valley in Arizona

In 1985 BNI installed its first magnetic resonance (MR) scanner—one of the first in Arizona—on the cusp of this new technology’s introduction as a clinical tool. Initially, the technique supplied exquisite images of the central nervous system, expanding our grasp of neuroanatomy and pathology and providing a new level of guidance for surgical intervention. Since then MR imaging has evolved in many new directions. About 10 years ago, MR angiography was developed—some of the methods here at the BNI. This advance offered a safe, noninvasive way to evaluate the vascular supply of the nervous system.

In the last few years, the imaging equipment that produces these amazing diagnostic studies has grown increasingly sophisticated. In response, new imaging methods continue to be developed, providing ever sharper images and better methods of MR angiography. Even more importantly, MR imaging techniques that open a window on the microscopic structure and function of the brain are now available for the first time.

In this issue of the BNI Quarterly, staff and fellows from the Department of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Division of Neuroradiology, spearheaded by Dr. Joseph Heiserman, review the basics of MR imaging and some of the important clinical applications made possible by these latest innovations: fast spin-echo, diffusion-weighted, perfusion-weighted, and cine imaging and MR spectroscopy. Of the three 1.5-Tesla MR scanners overseen by the Division of Neuroradiology, one is equipped with a neurovascular imaging package that includes high-performance gradient systems and receivers—the only such scanner in the state. Besides enhancing diagnostic accuracy and acquisition times for patients, the neurovascular scanner permits echo-planar and functional MR imaging. It has become the centerpiece of our research efforts in the arena of imaging and an important facet in maintaining our commitment to excellence in patient care, teaching, and research.

Robert F. Spetzler, MD