Clinical Applications

Our group also aims to apply the brain MRE technique to clinical problems in neurology and neurosurgery. In particular we are interested in problems where the mechanical properties of the brain can: a) provide a sensitive measure of tissue health related to disease course and clinical outcomes and b) provide insight into the mechanical bases of some conditions and how they affect successful treatment plans. We are exploring a wide variety of disease conditions with several partner institutions, particularly Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, IL.

Ongoing research directions include:clinical

  • Neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis: Tissue softening has been reported in both patients with MS, and is considered reflective of neurodegeneration due to disease processes. We seek to understand how region-specific degeneration affects functional outcomes (i.e. walking) and cognitive performance (i.e. memory), and whether these relationships are modulated by interventional therapies. This work is funded by the National MS Society.
  • Hippocampal sclerosis in epilepsy: Hippocampal sclerosis is one of the most common forms of temporal lobe epilepsy, and is most effectively treated via surgical intervention. This project aims to develop biomarkers of hippocampal sclerosis for early detection that could lead to more treatment options for epileptic patients.
  • Pre-surgical tumor characterization: We are evaluating the viscoelastic properties of intracranial tumors prior to surgical resection. These properties may reflect type and grade of tumor, but also, more importantly, can provide neurosurgeons critical information necessary for resection in order to better plan a safe and efficient procedure. We are particularly focusing on the improvement in characterization afforded by our high-resolution approaches over more common techniques.
  • Biomechanics in hydrocephalus: This project explores the role of tissue biomechanics in the presentation of treatment of hydrocephalus. Initial evidence suggests that brain tissue stiffness may determine the required shunt opening pressure and could predict a patient’s response to shunt failure.

CL Johnson, et al, “MR Elastography of Intracranial Tumors: Initial Experience with High-Resolution Imaging and Nonlinear Inversion,” ISMRM 2016.
WC Olivero, et al, “Magnetic Resonance Elastography Demonstrating Low Brain Stiffness in a Patient with Low-Pressure Hydrocephalus: Case Report,” Pediatric Neurosurgery, 2016.
WC Olivero, et al, “Stiffness of Intracranial Tumors Characterized by Magnetic Resonance Elastography,” AANS 2016.
CL Johnson, et al, “Magnetic Resonance Elastography of the Hippocampus in Mesial Temporal Sclerosis: Initial Results,” AAN 2016.