Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging vol:23 issue:6 pages:887-905
Since the birth of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)-a noninvasive tool able to visualize brain function-now 15 years ago, several clinical applications have emerged. fMRI follows from the neurovascular coupling between neuronal electrical activity and cerebrovascular physiology that leads to three effects that can contribute to the fMRI signal: an increase in the blood flow velocity, in the blood volume and in the blood oxygenation level. The latter effect, gave the technique the name blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) fMRI. One of the major clinical uses is presurgical fMRI in patients with brain abnormalities. The goals of presurgical fMRI are threefold: 1) assessing the risk of neurological deficit that follows a surgical procedure, 2) selecting patients for invasive intraoperative mapping, and 3) guiding of the surgical procedure itself. These are reviewed here. Unfortunately, randomized trials or outcome studies that definitively show benefits to the final outcome of the patient when applying fMRI presurgically have not been performed. Therefore, fMRI has not yet reached the status of clinical acceptance. The final purpose of this article is to define a roadmap of future research and developments in order to tilt pre-surgical fMRI to the status of clinical validity and acceptance.