Nanotechnology has given scientists new tools for the development of advanced materials for the detection and diagnosis of disease. In particular, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) have been extensively investigated as novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents due to a combination of favorable superparamagnetic properties, biodegradability, and surface properties. This review discusses the basics of MR imaging, the origin of SPION's unique magnetic properties, recent developments in MRI acquisition methods for detection of SPIONs, synthesis and post-synthesis processes that improve SPION's imaging characteristics, and the outlook of the translational potential of SPIONs.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(11)70163-8