, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 25–29 | Cite as

Clinical applications of diffusion tensor tractography of the spinal cord

  • Maria Isabel Vargas
  • Jacqueline Delavelle
  • Helmi Jlassi
  • Bénédict Rilliet
  • Magalie Viallon
  • Christoph D. Becker
  • Karl-Olof Lövblad
Diagnostic Neuroradiology


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can visualize the white matter tracts in vivo. The aim of this study was to assess the clinical utility of DTI in patients with diseases of the spinal cord. Fourteen subjects underwent magnetic resonance imaging of the spine at 1.5 T. Preliminary diagnosis of the patients suggested traumatic, tumorous, ischemic or inflammatory lesions of the spinal cord. In addition to T2-weighted images, DTI was performed with the gradients in 30 orthogonal directions. Maps of the apparent diffusion coefficient and of fractional anisotropy were reconstructed. Diffusion tensor imaging showed a clear displacement and deformation of the white matter tracts at the level of the pathological lesions in the spinal cord. This capability of diffusion tensor imaging to reliably display secondary alterations to the white matter tracts caused by the primary lesion has the potential to be of great utility for treatment planning and follow-up.


Diffusion Diffusion tensor imaging Magnetic resonance imaging Spinal cord Spine 


Conflict of interest statement

We declare that we have no conflict of interest.


The authors thank Stefan Huwer and Heiko Maier from the Siemens Advanced Neuro MR development group in Erlangen for helpful discussions and collaboration of the Neuro3D software.


  1. 1.
    Thurnher MM, Bammer R (2006) Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging of the spine and spinal cord. Semin Roentgenol 41(4):294–311PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Tsuchiya K, Katase S, Fujikawa A, Hachiya J, Kanazawa H, Yodo K (2003) Diffusion-weighted MRI of the cervical spinal cord using a single-shot fast spin-echo technique: findings in normal subjects and in myelomalacia. Neuroradiology 45(2):90–94PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Stepper F, Lovblad KO (2001) Anterior spinal artery stroke demonstrated by echo-planar DWI. Eur Radiol 11(12):2607–2610PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Le Bihan D, Mangin JF, Poupon C, Clark CA, Pappata S, Molko N, Chabriat H (2001) Diffusion tensor imaging: concepts and applications. J Magn Reson Imaging 13(4):534–546PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Maier SE, Mamata H (2005) Diffusion tensor imaging of the spinal cord. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1064:50–60PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Summers P, Staempfli P, Jaermann T, Kwiecinski S, Kollias S (2006) A preliminary study of the effects of trigger timing on diffusion tensor imaging of the human spinal cord. Am J Neuroradiol 27(9):1952–1961PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Rossi C, Boss A, Lindig TM, Martirosian P, Steidle G, Maetzler W, Claussen CD, Klose U, Schick F (2007) Diffusion tensor imaging of the spinal cord at 1.5 and 3.0 Tesla. ROFO 179(3):219–224PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ducreux D, Lepeintre JF, Fillard P, Loureiro C, Tadie M, Lasjaunias P (2006) MR diffusion tensor imaging and fiber tracking in 5 spinal cord astrocytomas. Am J Neuroradiol 2006 27(1):214–216Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Renoux J, Facon D, Fillard P, Huynh I, Lasjaunias P, Ducreux D (2006) MR diffusion tensor imaging and fiber tracking in inflammatory diseases of the spinal cord. Am J Neuroradiol 27(9):1947–1951PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Schwartz ED, Duda J, Shumsky JS, Cooper ET, Gee J (2005) Spinal cord diffusion tensor imaging and fiber tracking can identify white matter tract disruption and glial scar orientation following lateral funiculotomy. J Neurotrauma 22(12):1388–1398PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Deo AA, Grill RJ, Hasan KM, Narayana PA (2006) In vivo serial diffusion tensor imaging of experimental spinal cord injury. J Neurosci Res 83(5):801–810PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Loher TJ, Bassetti CL, Lovblad KO, Stepper FP, Sturzenegger M, Kiefer C, Nedeltchev K, Arnold M, Remonda L, Schroth G (2003) Diffusion-weighted MRI in acute spinal cord ischaemia. Neuroradiology 45(8):557–561PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Isabel Vargas
    • 1
  • Jacqueline Delavelle
    • 1
  • Helmi Jlassi
    • 2
  • Bénédict Rilliet
    • 3
  • Magalie Viallon
    • 2
  • Christoph D. Becker
    • 2
  • Karl-Olof Lövblad
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Neuroradiology, Department of RadiologyGeneva University HospitalGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyGeneva University HospitalGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of NeurosurgeryGeneva University HospitalGenevaSwitzerland
  4. 4.Division of Neuroradiology, Department of Radiology, DISIMHôpital Universitaire HUGGeneva 14Switzerland

Personalised recommendations