Directionally-ordered cellular structures that impede water motion, such as cell membranes and myelin, result in water mobility that is also directionally-dependent. Diffusion tensor imaging characterizes this directional nature of water motion and thereby provides structural information that cannot be obtained by standard anatomic imaging. Quantitative apparent diffusion coefficients and fractional anisotropy have emerged from being primarily research tools to methods enabling valuable clinical applications. This review describes the clinical utility of diffusion tensor imaging, including the basic principles of the technique, acquisition, data analysis, and the major clinical applications.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.