Diffusion weighted MRI is often used to detect and stage neurodegenerative, malignant and ischemic diseases. The correlation between developing pathology and localized diffusion measurements relies on the design of selective phase encoding pulses that alter the intensity of the acquired signal according to biophysical models of spin diffusion in tissue. The most common approach utilizes a bipolar or Stejskal-Tanner gradient pulse sequence to encode the apparent diffusion coefficient as an exponential, multi-exponential or stretched exponential function of experimentally-controlled parameters. Several studies have investigated the ability of the stretched exponential to provide an improved fit to diffusion-weighted imaging data. These results were recently analyzed by establishing a direct link between water diffusion, as measured using NMR, and fractal structural models of tissues. In this paper we suggest an alternative description for stretched exponential behavior that reflects fractional order dynamics of a generalized Bloch-Torrey equation in either space or time. Such generalizations are the basis for similar anomalous diffusion phenomena observed in optical spectroscopy, polymer dynamics and electrochemistry. Here we demonstrate a correspondence between the detected NMR signal and anomalous diffusional dynamics of water through the Riesz fractional order space derivative and the Caputo form of the fractional order Riemann-Liouville time derivative.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.