Published online Sep 28, 2016. doi: 10.4329/wjr.v8.i9.785
Peer-review started: March 9, 2016
First decision: May 13, 2016
Revised: July 24, 2016
Accepted: August 11, 2016
Article in press: August 15, 2016
Published online: September 28, 2016
Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) is a method of signal contrast generation based on the differences in Brownian motion. DWI is a method to evaluate the molecular function and micro-architecture of the human body. DWI signal contrast can be quantified by apparent diffusion coefficient maps and it acts as a tool for treatment response evaluation and assessment of disease progression. Ability to detect and quantify the anisotropy of diffusion leads to a new paradigm called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). DTI is a tool for assessment of the organs with highly organised fibre structure. DWI forms an integral part of modern state-of-art magnetic resonance imaging and is indispensable in neuroimaging and oncology. DWI is a field that has been undergoing rapid technical evolution and its applications are increasing every day. This review article provides insights in to the evolution of DWI as a new imaging paradigm and provides a summary of current role of DWI in various disease processes.
Core tip: Diffusion weighted imaging has revolutionised the magnetic resonance imaging. There is wide use of this technique in neuroimaging, body imaging as well as in oncoimaging. This article reviews the current role of diffusion weighted imaging in medical imaging and highlights the current challenges and limitations to this technique.