Does hydration status affect MRI measures of brain volume or water content?

Sandra M. Meyers, Roger Tam, Jimmy S. Lee, Shannon H. Kolind, Irene M. Vavasour, Emilie Mackie, Yinshan Zhao, Cornelia Laule, Burkhard Mädler, David K.B. Li, Alex L. MacKay, Anthony L. Traboulsee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine whether differences in hydration state, which could arise from routine clinical procedures such as overnight fasting, affect brain total water content (TWC) and brain volume measured with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Materials and Methods: Twenty healthy volunteers were scanned with a 3T MR scanner four times: day 1, baseline scan; day 2, hydrated scan after consuming 3L of water over 12 hours; day 3, dehydrated scan after overnight fasting of 9 hours, followed by another scan 1 hour later for reproducibility. The following MRI data were collected: T2 relaxation (for TWC measurement), inversion recovery (for T1 measurement), and 3D T1-weighted (for brain volumes). Body weight and urine specific gravity were also measured. TWC was calculated by fitting the T2 relaxation data with a nonnegative least-squares algorithm, with corrections for T1 relaxation and image signal inhomogeneity and normalization to ventricular cerebrospinal fluid. Brain volume changes were measured using SIENA. TWC means were calculated within 14 tissue regions. Results: Despite indications of dehydration as demonstrated by increases in urine specific gravity (P = 0.03) and decreases in body weight (P = 0.001) between hydrated and dehydrated scans, there was no measurable change in TWC (within any brain region) or brain volume between hydration states. Conclusion: We demonstrate that within a range of physiologic conditions commonly encountered in routine clinical scans (no pretreatment with hydration, well hydrated before MRI, and overnight fasting), brain TWC and brain volumes are not substantially affected in a healthy control cohort. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2016;44:296–304.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-304
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • T2 relaxation
  • brain volume
  • hydration
  • magnetic resonance
  • proton density
  • water content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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