Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2004;75:1511
© 2004 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd


Quantitative MRI of the brain—measuring changes caused by disease

M Maier

P Tofts. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2003, pp 617, £175.00. ISBN 0-470-84721-2

We have waited for a long time for a comprehensive book on magnetic resonance (MR) techniques that will appeal to the neurologist/neuroradiologist as well as the physicist and researcher. A book that is right up to date and is relevant across the board for all who are interested in the technique and that deals with quantification.

Paul Tofts has produced a book that is in the coffee table style, in the best sense of the concept, and in price; in the fact that the book invites you to pick a section at random and find that the information is immediately accessible and self-contained. The level of detail is impressive, as is the design of the presentation where information of different types is presented in boxes comprising summaries, opinions, and practical suggestions. The layout works well; chapters take you through theory to practical applications and mention problems and solutions along the way. It is clear that it has been written by people who have hands on experience of MR and who have had to deal with the issues associated with quantification in all forms of MR use (diffusion, magnetisation transfer, spectroscopy, contrast enhanced MRI, functional MRI, blood perfusion and volume estimation, and the various practicalities associated with analysing images, to mention just some of the topics covered).

The usual pitfalls of multiauthor books have been avoided as Paul Tofts is involved in the writing of many of the chapters and the book has the coherence of a single author book. The style of writing is occasionally poetic, for example: "the paradigm shift from qualitative picture-taking to objective measurement-making is taking place", which elegantly summarises the theme of the book. I have to mention the introduction, which might have been written by Melvyn Bragg and at first seems a little out of place in a science textbook and more fitting to a book on the arts. It references Stravinsky, John Cleese, Bronowski, and Rachmaninov, among others, and speculates about the nature of creativity: "Sometimes I seemed to be witnessing the creation of perfection", writes Paul Tofts. I smiled to myself when I first read this but having looked at this book in greater detail, I think he might have a point.

If you are involved with MR imaging in any way I urge you to look at this book, and once you have, you will know that you need to have it and you will want it for its sheer comprehensiveness, and the knowledge that quantification in MR imaging is truly at the cutting edge.