Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging of cerebrospinal fluid dynamics: Current techniques and future advancements

Adam M. Wright, Yu Chien Wu, Li Feng, Qiuting Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) plays a critical role in metabolic waste clearance from the brain, requiring its circulation throughout various brain pathways, including the ventricular system, subarachnoid spaces, para-arterial spaces, interstitial spaces, and para-venous spaces. The complexity of CSF circulation has posed a challenge in obtaining noninvasive measurements of CSF dynamics. The assessment of CSF dynamics throughout its various circulatory pathways is possible using diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with optimized sensitivity to incoherent water movement across the brain. This review presents an overview of both established and emerging diffusion MRI techniques designed to measure CSF dynamics and their potential clinical applications. The discussion offers insights into the optimization of diffusion MRI acquisition parameters to enhance the sensitivity and specificity of diffusion metrics on underlying CSF dynamics. Lastly, we emphasize the importance of cautious interpretations of diffusion-based imaging, especially when differentiating between tissue- and fluid-related changes or elucidating structural versus functional alterations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • diffusion-weighted imaging
  • glymphatic system
  • interstitial fluid
  • neurofluid
  • waste clearance


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