Line scan diffusion tensor magenetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI) of the cervical spinal cord was demonstrated in vivo for unsedated preterm (gestational age 24-30 weeks at birth), very low birthweight (birthweight 620-1300 g) infants at postmenstrual ages from 29-40 weeks. Scalar invariant measures of diffusion [apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and relative anisotropy (RA)] determined from a cervical cord region of interest in each case are reported, characterizing the maturational status of the normal third trimester and newborn spinal cord. Mean ADC of 11 infants was 1.2 +/- 0.1 microm(2)/msec and the mean RA was 24.3 +/- 4.9%. Normal infant cord neural fiber tract morphology was visualized using a mapping of the predominant diffusion tensor eigenvector. Potential clinical applications of line scan DT-MRI of the spinal cord of preterm and term newborns for assessment of spinal cord injury are discussed. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2001;13:949-953.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.