Purpose: To investigate the feasibility of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) assessment of microscopic fiber tract injury in the corpus callosum (CC) and other normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) in patients with early multiple sclerosis (MS).
Materials and methods: DTI was performed in 12 healthy volunteers and 15 patients who have relatively short disease duration (mean = 2.7 years). Both fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) were obtained in different regions of normal-appearing CC (NACC) and NAWM in frontal and occipital regions.
Results: The data showed significantly lower FA (P < 0.001) and higher MD (P < 0.04) for NACC regions, but not for frontal and occipital NAWM regions, in patients than in those in healthy volunteers after Bonferroni adjustment. The increase of MD in the entire NACC regions was correlated with the total cerebral lesion volume (r = 0.75, P = 0.001) in patients.
Conclusion: The water diffusion changes indicate that in the early phase of disease there is a preferential occult injury of CC, which is likely due to the Wallerian degeneration from distant lesions.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.