Tractography of lumbar nerve roots: initial results
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The aims of this preliminary study were to demonstrate the feasibility of in vivo diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and fibre tracking (FT) of the lumbar nerve roots, and to assess potential differences in the DTI parameters of the lumbar nerves between healthy volunteers and patients suffering from disc herniation.
Nineteen patients with unilateral sciatica related to posterolateral or foraminal disc herniation and 19 healthy volunteers were enrolled in this study. DTI with tractography of the L5 or S1 nerves was performed. Mean fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) values were calculated from tractography images.
FA and MD values could be obtained from DTI-FT images in all controls and patients. The mean FA value of the compressed lumbar nerve roots was significantly lower than the FA of the contralateral nerve roots (p = 0.0001) and of the nerve roots of volunteers (p = 0.0001). MD was significantly higher in compressed nerve roots than in the contralateral nerve root (p = 0.0002) and in the nerve roots of volunteers (p = 0.04).
DTI with tractography of the lumbar nerves is possible. Significant changes in diffusion parameters were found in the compressed lumbar nerves.
KeywordsEcho-planar imaging Magnetic resonance imaging Sciatica DTI Herniated disc
The authors acknowledge Hélène Tostain for English manuscript corrections.