Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Imaging the kidney using magnetic resonance techniques: structure to function

Mahmoud, Huda; Buchanan, Charlotte; Francis, Susan T.; Selby, Nicholas M.


Huda Mahmoud

Nicholas M. Selby


Purpose of review
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers the possibility to non-invasively assess both the structure and function of the kidney in a single MR scan session. This review summarises recent advancements in functional renal MRI techniques, with a particular focus on their clinical relevance.
Recent findings
A number of MRI techniques have been developed that provide non-invasive measures of relevance to the pathophysiology of kidney disease. Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) has been used in chronic kidney disease (CKD) and renal transplantation, and appears promising as a measure of renal impairment and fibrosis. Longitudinal relaxation time (T1) mapping has been utilised in cardiac MRI to measure fibrosis and oedema; recent work suggests its potential for assessment of the kidney. Blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) MRI to measure renal oxygenation has been extensively studied, but a number of other factors affect results making it hard to draw definite conclusions as to its utility as an independent measure. Phase contrast and arterial spin labelling (ASL) can measure renal artery blood flow and renal perfusion respectively without exogenous contrast, in contrast to dynamic contrast enhanced (DCE) studies. Current data on clinical use of such functional renal MR measures is largely restricted to cross-sectional studies.
Renal MRI has seen significant recent interest and advances. Current evidence demonstrates its potential, and next steps include wider evaluation of its clinical application.


Mahmoud, H., Buchanan, C., Francis, S. T., & Selby, N. M. (2016). Imaging the kidney using magnetic resonance techniques: structure to function. Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension, 25(6),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 1, 2016
Publication Date Nov 1, 2016
Deposit Date Dec 21, 2016
Publicly Available Date Dec 21, 2016
Journal Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension
Print ISSN 1062-4821
Electronic ISSN 1473-6543
Publisher Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 6
Keywords Magnetic resonance imaging, diffusion-weighted imaging, diffusion-tensor imaging, blood oxygen level dependent MRI, arterial spin labelling, dynamic contrast enhanced MRI, chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, transplantation
Public URL
Additional Information This is a non-final version of an article published in final form in Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension, v. 25(6), p. 487-493.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations