Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 823–858 | Cite as

Magnetic resonance velocimetry: applications of magnetic resonance imaging in the measurement of fluid motion

  • Christopher J. Elkins
  • Marcus T. Alley
Review Article


Magnetic resonance velocimetry (MRV) is a non-invasive technique capable of measuring the three-component mean velocity field in complex three-dimensional geometries with either steady or periodic boundary conditions. The technique is based on the phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and works in conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) magnets used for clinical imaging. Velocities can be measured along single lines, in planes, or in full 3D volumes with sub-millimeter resolution. No optical access or flow markers are required so measurements can be obtained in clear or opaque MR compatible flow models and fluids. Because of its versatility and the widespread availability of MRI scanners, MRV is seeing increasing application in both biological and engineering flows. MRV measurements typically image the hydrogen protons in liquid flows due to the relatively high intrinsic signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Nonetheless, lower SNR applications such as fluorine gas flows are beginning to appear in the literature. MRV can be used in laminar and turbulent flows, single and multiphase flows, and even non-isothermal flows. In addition to measuring mean velocity, MRI techniques can measure turbulent velocities, diffusion coefficients and tensors, and temperature. This review surveys recent developments in MRI measurement techniques primarily in turbulent liquid and gas flows. A general description of MRV provides background for a discussion of its accuracy and limitations. Techniques for decreasing scan time such as parallel imaging and partial k-space sampling are discussed. MRV applications are reviewed in the areas of physiology, biology, and engineering. Included are measurements of arterial blood flow and gas flow in human lungs. Featured engineering applications include the scanning of turbulent flows in complex geometries for CFD validation, the rapid iterative design of complex internal flow passages, velocity and phase composition measurements in multiphase flows, and the scanning of flows through porous media. Temperature measurements using MR thermometry are discussed. Finally, post-processing methods are covered to demonstrate the utility of MRV data for calculating relative pressure fields and wall shear stresses.


Computational Fluid Dynamic Particle Image Velocimetry Wall Shear Stress Transverse Magnetization Echo Planar Imaging 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Professor John K. Eaton and Professor Norbert Pelc for their helpful discussions. Support for Christopher J. Elkins was provided by a grant from General Electric Aircraft Engines as part of the GE-University Strategic Alliance. Support for Marcus Alley came from a National Institutes of Health grant (P41 RR09784). Both authors were also supported by the National Science Foundation under grants CTS-0432478 and OCE-0425312.


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© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mechanical Engineering DepartmentStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of Radiology, Lucas MRI/S CenterStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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