Chronic cervical spinal cord injury: DTMRI correlates with clinical and electrophysiological measures

Authors: Petersen JA, Wilm BJ, von Meyenburg J, Schubert M, Seifert B, Najafi Y, Dietz V, Kollias S.

Source: J Neurotrauma. 2011 Dec 7

Petersen at al. from Zurich report that diffusion tensor MR imaging (DTMRI) correlates with clinical and electrophysiological measures in Chronic cervical spinal cord injury.

The authors state that: "Diffusion tensor MR imaging (DTI) is rarely applied in spinal cord injury (SCI). The aim of this study is correlate diffusion properties after SCI with electrophysiological and neurological measures. 19 traumatic SCI subjects and 28
age-matched healthy subjects participated in this study. DTI data of the spinal cord were acquired on a Philips Achieva 3 T MR scanner using an outer volume suppressed, reduced field of view (FOV) acquisition with oblique slice excitation and a single-shot EPI readout. Motor (MEP) and somatosensory (SSEP) evoked potentials as well as neurological measures (ASIA impairment scale) were assessed in SCI subjects. In SCI subjects, Fractional anisotropy (FA) values were decreased as compared to healthy subjects. In upper cervical segments, the decrease in FA was significant for the evaluation of the entire cross sectional area of the spinal cord as well as for motor and sensory tracts. At thoracic levels, there was a trend of decrease for the corticospinal tracts. The decrease of DTI values correlated with SSEP amplitudes and with the clinical completeness of SCI. The reduced DTI values in the SCI subjects are likely to be due to demyelination and axonal degeneration of spinal tracts, which are related to clinical and electrophysiological measures. A reduction of DTI values in regions remote from the injury site suggests their involvement by Wallerian axonal degeneration. DTI can be used as a quantitative tool for evaluating the extent of spinal cord damage and for monitoring the effects of future regeneration inducing treatments".

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