Neuroradiology | Keck Medicine of USC


The Division of Neuroradiology at the University of Southern California is composed of several modalities that work together or independently to diagnose neurological problems. These modalities include myelography, ultrasound (US), computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Advanced MR Imaging, and interventional procedures.

Common Examinations and Indications

Indications for MRI
There are numerous indications for and MRI of the brain or spine, which range from simple headache and back pain to more complex neurological disorders such as cognitive impairment, neuropsychiatric disorders. We are proud to be a part of the neuroscience team and enjoy the close working relationship with our clinical colleagues. We constantly communicate with our clinical colleagues and give full support to the clinical, research and academic enterprise. We support the Gamma Knife®, Stereotactic Guided Surgery or Biopsy, Movement Disorder Surgery, Epilepsy Surgery Multiple Sclerosis, Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke Therapy.

Indications for spinal procedures

We also work closely with highly reputable orthopaedic and neurosurgical spine surgeons. We perform a number of interventional spine procedures, such as myelography, discography, facet blocks, nerve blocks and epidural blocks for cervical and lumbar back pain. Patients with back pain can sometimes suffer from vertebral compression fractures. These may be treated with vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty, which symptomatically reduces the back pain from compression fractures.

Indications for Advanced MR Imaging

Pre-surgical planning for brain and spine lesions requires accurate localization of functional and eloquent part of the brain unaffected by disease. Using advanced functional MRI technique, we can pre-operatively map language, auditory and visual centers for the surgeon so that these areas are not compromised at surgery. Diffusion tensor imaging and fiber tractograpy is another technique we perform routinely in the pre-surgical setting to map eloquent white matter tracts, such as the corticospinal tracts and the arcuate fasciculus, which is an important white matter tract which connects the functional Broca and Wernicke’s speech areas.

MRI and Advanced MR Imaging

During the last decade, MRI and Advanced MR Imaging techniques have gradually translated from the research laboratory into the clinic. At USC, all advanced MR Imaging techniques are provided including MR spectroscopy, diffusion tensor imaging and fiber tractography, perfusion and permeability imaging, functional MR imaging including language, visual and auditory cortical pre-surgical mapping.

Conventional MR Imaging plays an important role in neurodiagnosis, however physiologic, micro-structural and metabolic imaging is demonstrating increased sensitivity and specificity as biomarkers for disease biology and progression. Not only do these techniques impact the diagnosis and therapy of brain tumors but will undoubtedly also have far reaching implications for other neurological diseases as well such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, stroke and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Spine Imaging and Intervention

Spinal disorders, spine pain and spine tumors are an important part of our neuroradiology practice. We perform numerous CT and MRI examinations each day on the spine to make diagnoses, such as cervical and lumbar disc disease to spinal tumors and metastases. We also perform a number of spinal procedures such as facet injections, epidural spinal injections under image guidance, biopsies and vertebral augmentation procedures such as vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. We also offer other therapeutic procedures such as an epidural blood patch for patients suffering from cerebro-spinal fluid leaks.

Head and Neck Imaging

The USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center treats a number of patients with head and neck cancers. We have state-of-the-art imaging including CT, MRI and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scans. Positron Emission Tomography is a noninvasive imaging technique that reflects tissue biochemistry and physiology. Based on the increased glucose metabolism of malignant tissue, PET, using the radiolabeled glucose analog 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), allows identification of the head and neck cancer. Preliminary studies show that PET imaging allows accurate and noninvasive detection of neck lymph node metastases, mainly in patients with advanced head and neck cancers. In collaboration with our colleagues in Nuclear Medicine, we are using some advanced face recognition technology developed by FUJI to fuse MRI with PET data. We have found that this increases our diagnostic accuracy and specificity.

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Last modified: February 12, 2019