Elastography of the brain is a topic of clinical and preclinical research, motivated by the potential for viscoelastic measures of the brain to provide sensitive indicators of pathological processes, and to assist in early diagnosis. To date, studies of the normal brain and of those with confirmed neurological disorders have reported a wide range of shear stiffness and shear wave speeds, even within similar categories. A range of factors including the shear wave frequency, and the age of the individual are thought to have a possible influence. However, it may be that short term dynamics within the brain may have an influence on the measured stiffness. This hypothesis is addressed quantitatively using the framework of the microchannel flow model, which derives the tissue stiffness, complex modulus, and shear wave speed as a function of the vascular and fluid network in combination with the elastic matrix that comprise the brain. Transformation rules are applied so that any changes in the fluid channels or the elastic matrix can be mapped to changes in observed elastic properties on a macroscopic scale. The results are preliminary but demonstrate that measureable, time varying changes in brain stiffness are possible simply by accounting for vasodynamic or electrochemical changes in the state of any region of the brain. The value of this preliminary exploration is to identify possible mechanisms and order-of-magnitude changes that may be testable in vivo by specialized protocols.

The full article is available here (free to read)