Diffusion-weighted MR imaging with apparent diffusion coefficient and apparent diffusion tensor maps in cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Radiology. 2003 Oct;229(1):37-43. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2291020658.


Purpose: To evaluate diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in patients with cervical spondylosis and/or myelopathy.

Materials and methods: A multishot echo-planar imaging sequence with calculation of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and apparent diffusion tensor (ADT) was applied in 36 patients with symptomatic cervical spondylosis. Diffusion-weighted images read by two neuroradiologists were compared with T2-weighted fast spin-echo images read independently by three neuroradiologists with regard to clinical status (n = 36). MR findings in a selected subgroup of 20 patients whose clinical status was confirmed by electrophysiologic examination also were compared. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of both T2-weighted imaging and diffusion-weighted imaging (ADC and ADT) were calculated and compared.

Results: Patients with myelopathy had abnormal ADC (17 of 21) and ADT (15 of 19) maps with increased ADC and ADT values and decreased anisotropy. For the detection of myelopathy, diffusion-weighted ADC maps had a sensitivity of 80% (17 of 21), while T2-weighted images had a sensitivity of 61% (13 of 21). The negative predictive value was 63% (seven of 11) and 60% (12 of 20) for ADC maps and T2-weighted images, respectively. Conversely, the specificity of diffusion-weighted images (53%; seven of 13) was lower than that of T2-weighted images (92%; 12 of 13). In patients with myelopathy confirmed at electrophysiologic examination, the sensitivity of diffusion-weighted images increased to 92% (12 of 13) and the negative predictive value increased to 75% (three of four), while T2-weighted images had a 53% (seven of 13) sensitivity and a 50% (six of 12) negative predictive value.

Conclusion: Diffusion weighting improved the sensitivity of imaging in cervical spondylotic myelopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Echo-Planar Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Compression / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Cord Compression / etiology
  • Spinal Osteophytosis / diagnosis*