Healthy human brain diffusion anisotropy maps derived from standard spin echo diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) were compared with those using fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) preparation prior to DTI to null the signal from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Consistent comparisons entailed development of DTI postprocessing methods, image masking based on fitting quality, and an objective region-of-interest-based method for assessment of white matter extent. FLAIR DTI achieved an extended delineation of major white-matter tracts (genu, splenium, and body of the corpus callosum) close to large CSF-filled spaces (lateral ventricles), but did not affect representation of tracts remote from CSF (internal and external capsules and coronal radiation). This result, which was detectable qualitatively (visual inspection), was verified quantitatively by analyses of the relative anisotropy (RA) distribution over white matter structures for 11 subjects. FLAIR DTI thus suppresses the CSF signal that otherwise masks underlying anisotropic parenchymal tissue through partial volume averaging.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.