Lung function measurements are the domain of spirometry or plethysmography. These methods have proven their value in clinical practice, nevertheless, being global measurements the functional indices only describe the sum of all functional units of the lung. Impairment of only a single component of the respiratory pump or of a small part of lung parenchyma can be compensated by unaffected lung tissue. Dynamic imaging can help to detect such local changes and lead to earlier adapted therapy. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) seems to be perfect for this application as it is not hampered by image distortion as is projection radiography and it does not expose the patient to potentially harmful radiation like computed tomography. Unfortunately, lung parenchyma is not easy to image using MRI due to its low signal intensity. For this reason first applications of MRI in lung function measurements concentrated on the movement of the thoracic wall and the diaphragm. Recent technical advances in MRI however might allow measurements of regional dynamics of the lungs.
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