Assessment of regional pulmonary perfusion as well as nodule and tumor perfusions in various pulmonary diseases are currently performed by means of nuclear medicine studies requiring radioactive macroaggregates, dual-energy computed tomography (CT), and dynamic first-pass contrast-enhanced perfusion CT techniques and unenhanced and dynamic first-pass contrast enhanced perfusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as well as time-resolved three-dimensional or four-dimensional contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). Perfusion scintigraphy, single-photon emission tomography (SPECT) and SPECT fused with CT have been established as clinically available scintigraphic methods; however, they are limited by perfusion information with poor spatial resolution and other shortcomings. Although positron emission tomography with15O water can measure absolute pulmonary perfusion, it requires a cyclotron for generation of a tracer with an extremely short half-life (2 min), and can only be performed for academic purposes. Therefore, clinicians are concentrating their efforts on the application of CT-based and MRI-based quantitative and qualitative perfusion assessment to various pulmonary diseases. This review article covers 1) the basics of dual-energy CT and dynamic first-pass contrast-enhanced perfusion CT techniques, 2) the basics of time-resolved contrast-enhanced MRA and dynamic first-pass contrast-enhanced perfusion MRI, and 3) clinical applications of contrast-enhanced CT- and MRI-based perfusion assessment for patients with pulmonary nodule, lung cancer, and pulmonary vascular diseases. We believe that these new techniques can be useful in routine clinical practice for not only thoracic oncology patients, but also patients with different pulmonary vascular diseases.
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