Diffusion tensor imaging for long-term follow-up of corticospinal tract degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Neuroradiology. 2003 Sep;45(9):598-600. doi: 10.1007/s00234-003-1014-0. Epub 2003 Aug 7.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a predominantly clinical and electromyographic diagnosis. Conventional MRI reveals atrophy of the motor system, particularly the pyramidal tract, in the advanced stages but does not provide a sensitive measure of disease progression. Three patients with different principal symptoms of ALS, i.e., with predominant involvement of the upper (UMN) or lower (UMN) motor neurons, or bulbar disease, respectively, underwent serial clinical examination including lung function tests, conventional MRI, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). MRI demonstrated changes in of the pyramidal tract without measurable variation on follow-up. The patient with UMN involvement showed remarkable progressive loss of diffusion anisotropy in the pyramidal tract. DTI might be useful, together with clinical follow-up, as an objective morphological marker in therapeutic trials.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Anisotropy
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pyramidal Tracts / pathology*