NMR imaging techniques are applicable to the assessment of lung water content and distribution because the NMR signal is, under certain conditions, proportional to tissue proton density. NMR imaging is noninvasive, easily repeatable, free from ionizing radiation, and particularly suitable for the assessment of spatial lung water distribution. Lung water content and distribution have been estimated in excised animal lungs and in intact dead or living animals, under normal conditions and in various types of experimental pulmonary edema. Excised human lungs and human subjects have also been studied. Published data indicate that measurements of lung water content by NMR imaging techniques are feasible. These techniques estimate lung water spatial distribution with satisfactory accuracy and excellent resolving power. The application of NMR imaging techniques poses several problems and limitations, but available data suggest that most of the problems can be solved. NMR imaging has the potential to become a powerful tool for lung water research. Prospects of clinical application are also encouraging; numerous applications can be foreseen, although lack of mobility of NMR imaging systems may be a significant limitation in critical care medicine.
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