Hyperoxia and Functional MRI.
Oxygen plays a fundamental role in functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI). Blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) imaging is the foundation stone of all FMRI and is still the essential workhorse of the vast majority of FMRI procedures. Hemoglobin may provide the magnetic properties that allow the technique to work, but it is oxygen that allows the contrast to effectively be switched on or off, and it is oxygen that we are interested in tracking in order to observe the oxygen metabolism changes. In general the changes in venous oxygen saturation are observed in order to infer changes in the correlated mechanisms, which can include changes in cerebral blood flow, metabolism, and the fraction of inspired oxygen. By independently manipulating the fraction of inspired oxygen it is possible to alter the amount of dissolved oxygen in the plasma, the venous saturation, or even the blood flow. The effects that these changes have on the observed MRI signal can be either a help or a hindrance depending on how well the changes induced are understood. The administration of supplemental inspired oxygen is in a unique position to provide a flexible, noninvasive, inexpensive, patient-friendly addition to the MRI toolkit to enable investigations to look beyond statistics and regions of interest, and actually produce calibrated, targeted measurements of blood flow, metabolism or pathology.