Purpose: To evaluate the normal brains of adults and neonates for regional and age-related differences in apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and fractional anisotropy (FA).
Materials and methods: Eight healthy adults and 20 healthy neonates were examined with a 3.0-T head-only magnetic resonance (MR) imaging unit by using a single-shot diffusion-tensor sequence. Trace ADC maps, FA maps, directional maps of the putative directions of white matter (WM) tracts, and fiber-tracking maps were obtained. Regions of interest-eight in WM and one in gray matter (GM)-were predefined for the ADC and FA measurements. The Student t test was used to compare FA and ADC between adults and neonates, whereas the Tukey multiple-comparison test was used to compare FA and ADC in different brain regions in the adult and neonate groups.
Results: A global elevation in ADC (P <.001) in both GM and WM and a reduction in FA (P <.001) in WM were observed in neonates as compared with these values in adults. In addition, significant regional variations in FA and ADC were observed in both groups. Regional variations in FA and ADC were less remarkable in adults, whereas neonates had consistently higher FA values and lower ADC values in the central WM as compared with these values in the peripheral WM. Fiber tracking revealed only major WM tracts in the neonates but fibers extending to the peripheral WM in the adults.
Conclusion: There were regional differences in FA and ADC values in the neonates; such variations were less remarkable in the adults.