A novel method for measuring bowel motility and velocity with dynamic magnetic resonance imaging in two and three dimensions

David Willis, Donnie Cameron, Bahman Kasmai, Vassilios S. Vassiliou, Paul N. Malcolm, Gabriella Baio

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Increasingly, dynamic MRI has potential as a non-invasive and accessible tool for diagnosing and monitoring gastrointestinal motility in healthy and diseased bowel. However, current MRI methods of measuring bowel motility have limitations: requiring bowel preparation or long acquisition times; providing mainly surrogate measures of motion; and estimating bowel-wall movement in just two dimensions. In this proof-of-concept study we apply a method that provides a quantitative measure of motion within the bowel, in both 2D and 3D, using existing, vendor-implemented MRI pulse sequences with minimal bowel-preparation. This method uses a minimised cost function to fit linear vectors in the spatial and temporal domains. It is sensitised to the spatial scale of the bowel and aims to address issues relating to the low signal-to-noise in high-temporal resolution dynamic MRI scans, previously compensated for by performing thick-slice (10 mm) 2D coronal scans. We applied both 2D and 3D scanning protocols in two healthy volunteers. For 2D scanning, analysis yielded bi-modal velocity peaks, with a mean antegrade motion of 5.5 mm/s and an additional peak at ~9 mm/s corresponding to longitudinal peristalsis, as supported by intra-operative data from the literature. Furthermore, 3D scans indicated a mean forward motion of 4.7 mm/s, and degrees of ante- and retrograde motion were also established. These measures show promise for the non-invasive assessment of bowel motility, and have the potential to be tuned to particular regions of interest and behaviours within the bowel.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4663
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
Issue number5
Early online date16 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Bowel dysmotility
  • gastrointestinal motility
  • dynamic MRI
  • quantification techniques
  • Crohn’s disease
  • bowel dysmotility
  • Crohn's disease

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