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What is MR spectroscopy?
  1. Karen Angela Manias1,2,
  2. Andrew Peet1,2
  1. 1 Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
  2. 2 Department of Paediatric Oncology, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Andrew Peet, Institute of Child Health, Birmingham, West Midlands B4 6NH, UK; a.peet{at}


1H-Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) is a novel advanced imaging technique used as an adjunct to MRI to reveal complementary non-invasive information about the biochemical composition of imaged tissue. Clinical uses in paediatrics include aiding diagnosis of brain tumours, neonatal disorders such as hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy, inherited metabolic diseases, traumatic brain injury, demyelinating conditions and infectious brain lesions. MRS has potential to improve diagnosis and treatment monitoring of childhood brain tumours and other CNS diseases, facilitate biopsy and surgical planning, and provide prognostic biomarkers. MRS is employed as a research tool outside the brain in liver disease and disorders of muscle metabolism. The range of clinical uses is likely to increase with growing evidence for added value. Multicentre trials are needed to definitively establish the benefits of MRS in specific clinical scenarios and integrate this promising new technique into routine practice to improve patient care. This article gives a brief overview of MRS and its potential clinical applications, and addresses challenges surrounding translation into practice.

  • imaging
  • oncology
  • neurology

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  • Contributors KAM conducted a review of the literature and wrote and revised the original manuscript. AP reviewed the literature, and reviewed and revised the manuscript prior to submission. Both authors approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) grant code 13-0053.

  • Disclaimer The sponsor had no role in the writing of this report or the decision to submit the article for publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.