Imaging techniques in the management of chronic kidney disease: current developments and future perspectives.
ABSTRACT The measurement of both renal function and structure is critical in clinical nephrology to detect, stage, and monitor chronic kidney disease (CKD). Current imaging modalities especially ultrasound (US), computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provide adequate information on structural changes but little on functional impairment in CKD. Although not yet considered first-line procedures for evaluating patients with renal disease, new US and MR imaging techniques may permit the assessment of renal function in the near future. Combined with established imaging techniques, contrast-enhanced US, dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI, blood oxygen level dependency MRI, or diffusion-weighted imaging may provide rapid, accurate, simultaneous, and noninvasive imaging of the structure of kidneys, macrovascular and microvascular renal perfusion, oxygenation, and glomerular filtration rate. Recent developments in molecular imaging indicate that pathophysiological pathways of renal diseases such as apoptosis, coagulation, fibrosis, and ischemia will be visualized at the tissue level. These major advances in imaging and developments in hardware and software could enable comprehensive imaging of renal structure and function in four dimensions (three dimensions plus time), and imaging is expected to play an increasing role in the management of CKD.