Measurement of fractional anisotropy using diffusion tensor MRI in supratentorial astrocytic tumors

J Neurooncol. 2003 Jun;63(2):109-16. doi: 10.1023/a:1023977520909.


In vivo, water diffusion displays directionality due to presence of complex microstructural barriers in tissue. The extent of directionality of water diffusion can be expressed as a fractional anisotropy (FA) value, using diffusion tensor MR imaging (DTI). The aim of this study was to determine whether FA values indicate microstructures in astrocytic tumors. We performed DTI in 31 patients with astrocytic tumor, and measured the FA values of tumor and normal brain regions prior to CT-guided stereotactic biopsy. After biopsy, FA values were compared to assess the cellularity and vascularity of tumor tissue. Although mean FA values trended to differ among histological types, all mean tumor FA values were lower than those of normal brain regions. Positive correlation was observed between FA values and both cellularity (r = 0.65, p < 0.05) and vascularity (r = 0.45, p < 0.05). We had hypothesized that the FA value of an astrocytic tumor would be determined by a balance between factors increasing the directionality of water diffusion, such as high cellularity and/or vascularity, and factors decreasing the directionality of water diffusion, such as fiber destruction. However, our results suggest that the FA values of glioblastoma, anaplastic astrocytoma, diffuse astrocytoma and pilocytic astrocytoma are largely affected by cellularity and/or vascularity, whereas that of gliomatosis cerebri are largely affected by the preservation of nerve fibers. Measurement of FA value using DTI will allow prediction of histological characteristics such as cellularity, vascularity and/or fiber structure in astrocytic tumors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anisotropy
  • Astrocytoma / diagnosis*
  • Astrocytoma / metabolism
  • Body Water / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged