European Radiology

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 1801–1808 | Cite as

Peripheral nerve diffusion tensor imaging (DTI): normal values and demographic determinants in a cohort of 60 healthy individuals

  • Moritz KronlageEmail author
  • Véronique Schwehr
  • Daniel Schwarz
  • Tim Godel
  • Lorenz Uhlmann
  • Sabine Heiland
  • Martin Bendszus
  • Philipp Bäumer



To identify demographic determinants of peripheral nerve diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and to establish normal values for fractional anisotropy (FA), axial diffusivity (AD), radial diffusivity (RD), and mean diffusivity (MD).


Sixty subjects were examined at 3 Tesla by single-shot DTI. FA, AD, RD, and MD were collected for the sciatic, tibial, median, ulnar, and radial nerve and were correlated with demographic variables.


Mean FA of all nerves declined with increasing age (r = −0.77), which could be explained by RD increasing (r = 0.56) and AD declining (r = −0.40) with age. Moreover, FA was inversely associated with height (r = −0.28), weight (r = −0.38) and BMI (r = −0.35). Although FA tended to be lower in men than women (p = 0.052), this difference became completely negligible after adjustment to body weight. A multiple linear regression model for FA was calculated with age and weight as predictors (defined by backward variable selection), yielding an R 2 = 0.71 and providing a correction formula to adjust FA for age and weight.


Peripheral nerve DTI parameters depend on demographic variables. The most important determinants age and weight should be considered in all studies employing peripheral nerve DTI.

Key points

• Peripheral nerve diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) parameters depend on demographic variables.

• Fractional anisotropy (FA) declines with increasing age and weight.

• Gender does not systematically affect peripheral nerve DTI.

• The formula presented here allows adjustment of FA for demographic variables.


Diffusion tensor imaging Magnetic resonance imaging Peripheral nervous system Aging Reference values 



We are grateful to Thorsten Feiweier from Siemens Healthcare for providing the work-in-progress package which included the DTI sequence that we used for imaging. This study was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 1118).


S.H. and M.B. were supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation (SFB 1118).

Compliance with ethical standards


The scientific guarantor of this publication is Dr. Moritz Kronlage.

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.

Statistics and biometry

One of the authors (Dr. Lorenz Uhlmann) has significant statistical expertise.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects (patients) in this study.

Ethical approval

Institutional review board approval was obtained.

Study subjects or cohorts overlap

Normal values of nerve calibre and T2 relaxometry in the same cohort were published separately in               Kronlage M, Schwehr V, Schwarz D et al (2017) Normal Values and Demographic Determinants of Nerve Caliber and T2 Relaxometry in 60 healthy individuals. Clin Neuroradiol. [Epub ahead of print]                         Eighteen of 60 subjects were used in a control group for

1. Kronlage M, Pitarokoili K, Schwarz D et al (2017) Diffusion tensor imaging in chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy: diagnostic accuracy and correlation with electrophysiology. Invest Radiol 52:701–7

2. Kronlage M, Baumer P, Pitarokoili K et al (2017) Large coverage MR neurography in CIDP: diagnostic accuracy and electrophysiological correlation. J Neurol 264:1434–43



cross-sectional study/observational

performed at one institution


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeuroradiologyHeidelberg University HospitalHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Institute for medical biometry and informaticsHeidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyGerman Cancer Research CenterHeidelbergGermany

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