Functional MRI (fMRI) based on changes in cerebral blood volume (CBV) can probe directly vasodilatation and vasoconstriction during brain activation or physiologic challenges, and can provide important insights into the mechanism of blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal changes. At present, the most widely used CBV fMRI technique in humans is called vascular-space-occupancy (VASO) MRI, and this article provides a technical review of this method. VASO MRI utilizes T1 differences between blood and tissue to distinguish between these two compartments within a voxel, and employs a blood-nulling inversion recovery sequence to yield an MR signal proportional to 1 - CBV. As such, vasodilatation will result in a VASO signal decrease and vasoconstriction will have the reverse effect. The VASO technique can be performed dynamically with a temporal resolution comparable with several other fMRI methods, such as BOLD or arterial spin labeling (ASL), and is particularly powerful when conducted in conjunction with these complementary techniques. The pulse sequence and imaging parameters of VASO can be optimized such that the signal change is predominantly of CBV origin, but careful considerations should be taken to minimize other contributions, such as those from the BOLD effect, cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The sensitivity of the VASO technique is the primary disadvantage when compared with BOLD, but this technique is increasingly demonstrating its utility in neuroscientific and clinical applications.
- Blood oxygenation level-dependent
- Cerebral blood volume
- Functional MRI
- Vascular space occupancy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging