Arterial spin labeling (ASL) is a powerful noncontrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that enables quantitative evaluation of brain perfusion. To optimize the clinical and research utilization of ASL, radiologists and physicists must understand the technical considerations and age-related variations in normal and disease states. We discuss advanced applications of ASL across the lifespan, with example cases from children and adults covering a wide variety of pathologies. Through literature review and illustrated clinical cases, we highlight the subtleties as well as pitfalls of ASL interpretation. First, we review basic physical principles, techniques, and artifacts. This is followed by a discussion of normal perfusion variants based on age and physiology. The three major categories of perfusion abnormalities—hypoperfusion, hyperperfusion, and mixed patterns—are covered with an emphasis on clinical interpretation and relationship to the disease process. Major etiologies of hypoperfusion include large artery, small artery, and venous disease; other vascular conditions; global hypoxic–ischemic injury; and neurodegeneration. Hyperperfusion is characteristic of vascular malformations and tumors. Mixed perfusion patterns can be seen with epilepsy, migraine, trauma, infection/inflammation, and toxic-metabolic encephalopathy. Level of Evidence: 4. Technical Efficacy Stage: 3.
- arterial spin labeling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging