DW images are sensitive to the microscopic motion of water molecules, allowing us to probe tissue microstructure at a much finer scale (~10 microns) compared to typical voxel dimensions (~ 2 mm isotropic).
A reduction in water mobility due to the increased cellularity is associated to malignant lesions, with diffusion parameters being helpful for lesion characterization. On the other hand, by evaluating diffusion directionality, it is possible to infer on white matter pathways and on the structural connectivity between different brain regions. The same approach is applied to estimate orientation of muscular fibres in the body.
This line of research involves the development of new acquisition strategies, optimization of imaging protocols for specific application and exploring the application of alternative models (e.g. diffusion kurtosis imaging).
External collaborators include Dr. Luísa Nogueira (Instituto Politécnico do Porto), Dr. Sofia Brandão (FEUP and Hospital de São João), Dr. Hugo Ferreira (IBEB, Faculdade de Ciências) and Prof. Joseph Hajnal (King’s College London).