A tracking-based diffusion tensor imaging segmentation method for the detection of diffusion-related changes of the cervical spinal cord with aging

Wirn Van Hecke, Alexander Leemans, Jan Sijbers, Evert Vandervliet, Johan Van Goethem, Paul M. Parizel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: To compare region of interest (ROI)-based and diffusion tensor tractography (DTT)-based methods for evaluating diffusion properties of the spinal cord as a function of age.

Materials and Methods: Commonly, an ROI segmentation is used to delineate the spinal cord. In this work, new segmentation methods are developed based on DTT. In a first, DTT-based, segmentation approach, the diffusion proper-ties are calculated on the tracts. In a second method, the diffusion properties are analyzed in the spinal cord voxels that contain a certain number of tracts. We studied the changes in diffusion properties of the human spinal cord in subjects of different ages. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) measurements of the cervical spinal cord were acquired on 42 healthy volunteers (age range = 19-87 years). The fractional anisotropy (FA), the mean diffusivity (MD), and eigenvalues (lambda(1), lambda(2), and lambda(3)) were compared for the ROIand DTF-based segmentation methods.

Results: Our automatic techniques are shown to be highly reproducible and sensitive for detecting DTI changes. FA decreased (r = -0.38; P <0.05), whereas MD and eigenvalties increased (r = +/- 0.45; P <0.05) with age. These trends were not statistically significant for the ROI-based segmentation (P > 0.05).

Conclusion: DTT is a robust and reproducible technique to segment the voxels of interest in the spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)978-991
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes

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