MRI-Visible Anatomy of the Brainstem.

Journal: Neuroimaging Clinics Of North America

Human brainstem internal anatomy is intricate, complex, and essential to normal brain function. The brainstem is affected by stroke, multiple sclerosis, and most neurodegenerative diseases-a 1-mm focus of pathologic condition can have profound clinical consequences. Unfortunately, detailed internal brainstem anatomy is difficult to see with conventional MRI sequences. We review normal brainstem anatomy visualized on widely available clinical 3-T MRI scanners using fast gray matter acquisition T1 inversion recovery, probabilistic diffusion tractography, neuromelanin, and susceptibility-weighted imaging. Better anatomic localization using these recent innovations improves our ability to diagnose, localize, and treat brainstem diseases. We aim to provide an accessible review of the most clinically relevant brainstem neuroanatomy.