Arterial Spin Labeling (ASL) in Neuroradiological Diagnostics - Methodological Overview and Use Cases

Nico Sollmann, Gabriel Hoffmann, Severin Schramm, Miriam Reichert, Moritz Hernandez Petzsche, Joachim Strobel, Lorenzo Nigris, Christopher Kloth, Johannes Rosskopf, Corinna Börner, Michaela Bonfert, Maria Berndt, Georg Grön, Hans Peter Müller, Jan Kassubek, Kornelia Kreiser, Inga K. Koerte, Hans Liebl, Ambros Beer, Claus ZimmerMeinrad Beer, Stephan Kaczmarz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background  Arterial spin labeling (ASL) is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based technique using labeled blood-water of the brain-feeding arteries as an endogenous tracer to derive information about brain perfusion. It enables the assessment of cerebral blood flow (CBF). Method  This review aims to provide a methodological and technical overview of ASL techniques, and to give examples of clinical use cases for various diseases affecting the central nervous system (CNS). There is a special focus on recent developments including super-selective ASL (ssASL) and time-resolved ASL-based magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) and on diseases commonly not leading to characteristic alterations on conventional structural MRI (e. g., concussion or migraine). Results  ASL-derived CBF may represent a clinically relevant parameter in various pathologies such as cerebrovascular diseases, neoplasms, or neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, ASL has also been used to investigate CBF in mild traumatic brain injury or migraine, potentially leading to the establishment of imaging-based biomarkers. Recent advances made possible the acquisition of ssASL by selective labeling of single brain-feeding arteries, enabling spatial perfusion territory mapping dependent on blood flow of a specific preselected artery. Furthermore, ASL-based MRA has been introduced, providing time-resolved delineation of single intracranial vessels. Conclusion  Perfusion imaging by ASL has shown promise in various diseases of the CNS. Given that ASL does not require intravenous administration of a gadolinium-based contrast agent, it may be of particular interest for investigations in pediatric cohorts, patients with impaired kidney function, patients with relevant allergies, or patients that undergo serial MRI for clinical indications such as disease monitoring. Key Points:   ASL is an MRI technique that uses labeled blood-water as an endogenous tracer for brain perfusion imaging. It allows the assessment of CBF without the need for administration of a gadolinium-based contrast agent. CBF quantification by ASL has been used in several pathologies including brain tumors or neurodegenerative diseases. Vessel-selective ASL methods can provide brain perfusion territory mapping in cerebrovascular diseases. ASL may be of particular interest in patient cohorts with caveats concerning gadolinium administration.

Translated title of the contributionArterial Spin Labeling (ASL) in der neuroradiologischen Diagnostik Methodischer berblick und Anwendungsf lle
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-51
Number of pages16
JournalRoFo Fortschritte auf dem Gebiet der Rontgenstrahlen und der Bildgebenden Verfahren
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • arterial spin labeling
  • cerebral blood flow
  • cerebrovascular disease
  • ischemia
  • perfusion


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