Diffusion tensor imaging of the human thigh: consideration of DTI-based fiber tracking stop criteria

  • Johannes ForstingEmail author
  • Robert Rehmann
  • Martijn Froeling
  • Matthias Vorgerd
  • Martin Tegenthoff
  • Lara Schlaffke
Research Article



To consider the tract-based analysis of DTI parameters in human muscle by assessing different fiber tracking stop criteria settings on diffusion parameters.

Materials and methods

30 healthy volunteers underwent a 3 T MRI. Diffusion-weighted images were acquired to perform DTI and fiber tracking analysis for six thigh muscles. Whole thigh muscles were evaluated by fiber tractography using different fiber tracking stop parameters [FA (0.01–0.15) to (0.4–0.99); angle 10°–30°, step size 0.75 mm, 1.5 mm, 3 mm]. Diffusion and tractography-derived parameters per stop criterion were compared using a repeated measure ANOVA including Bonferroni-corrected post hoc tests.


We found significant differences in all examined diffusion parameters between different stop criteria (main effect p < 0.001). We showed different influence of tracking parameters on diffusion parameters in examined muscles (main effect p ≤ 0.001).


Statistically significant differences in fiber tracking results using different stop criteria were shown. Fiber tracking stop criteria do have an important influence on study results and should be considered in the development of study protocols and comparison of studies. We recommend a FA minimum of 0.10 and a step size lower than voxel size, e.g., a half with a constant ratio between step size and angle of 10°/mm.


Diffusion tractography Diffusion tensor MRI Musculoskeletal system Anisotropy 



We thank Philips Germany for continuous scientific support and specifically Dr. Burkhard Mädler for valuable discussion. JF, LS and MT received funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Project number 122679504 SFB874 (TP-A1 to MT and JF, TP-A5 to LS).

Author contributions

JF: Study conception and design, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting of manuscript. RR: Acquisition of data, critical revision. MF: Analysis and interpretation of data, critical revision. MV: Critical revision. MT: Study conception and design, critical revision. LS: Study conception and design, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, critical revision.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Study protocol was approved by local ethics committee.

Informed consent

Voluntary informed consent was obtained from all participants.

Supplementary material

10334_2019_791_MOESM1_ESM.eps (22.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (EPS 23,188 kb)


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Copyright information

© European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology (ESMRMB) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyBG-University Hospital Bergmannsheil, Ruhr-University BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyUniversity Medical Centre UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands

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