Susceptibility Weighted Imaging: Current Status and Future Directions
By: Karen Holzberger, President & CEO of SpinTech MRI
Susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) is a method that uses the intrinsic nature of local magnetic fields to enhance image contrast in order to improve the visibility of various susceptibility sources and to facilitate the diagnostic interpretation. It is also the precursor to the concept of using phase for quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM). Nowadays, SWI has become a widely used clinical tool to image deoxyhemoglobin in veins, iron deposition in the brain, hemorrhages, microbleeds, and calcification. In this paper, we review the basics of SWI, including data acquisition, data reconstruction and post-processing. In particular, the source of cusp artifacts in phase images is investigated in detail and an improved multi-channel phase data combination algorithm is provided. In addition, we show a few clinical applications of SWI for imaging stroke, traumatic brain injury, carotid vessel wall, siderotic nodules in cirrhotic liver, prostate cancer, prostatic calcification, spinal cord injury and intervertebral disc degeneration. As the clinical applications of SWI continue to expand both in and outside the brain, improving SWI in conjunction with QSM is an important future direction of this technology.