Peripheral nerve magnetic resonance imaging.

Yongsheng Chen, E. Mark Haacke, Jun Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been used extensively in revealing pathological changes in the central nervous system. However, to date, MRI is very much underutilized in evaluating the peripheral nervous system (PNS). This underutilization is generally due to two perceived weaknesses in MRI: First, the need for very high resolution to image the small structures within the peripheral nerves to visualize morphological changes; second, the lack of normative data in MRI of the PNS and this makes reliable interpretation of the data difficult. This article reviews current state-of-the-art capabilities in in vivo MRI of human peripheral nerves. It aims to identify areas where progress has been made and those that still require further improvement. In particular, with many new therapies on the horizon, this review addresses how MRI can be used to provide non-invasive and objective biomarkers in the evaluation of peripheral neuropathies. Although a number of techniques are available in diagnosing and tracking pathologies in the PNS, those techniques typically target the distal peripheral nerves, and distal nerves may be completely degenerated during the patient’s first clinic visit. These techniques may also not be able to access the proximal nerves deeply embedded in the tissue. Peripheral nerve MRI would be an alternative to circumvent these problems. In order to address the pressing clinical needs, this review closes with a clinical protocol at 3T that will allow high-resolution, high-contrast, quantitative MRI of the proximal peripheral nerves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1803
StatePublished - Oct 28 2019


  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Peripheral Nerves
  • Peripheral Nervous System
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Sciatic Nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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