Towards better MR characterization of neural tissues using directional diffusion kurtosis analysis

Neuroimage. 2008 Aug 1;42(1):122-34. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.04.237. Epub 2008 Apr 30.


MR diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) was proposed recently to study the deviation of water diffusion from Gaussian distribution. Mean kurtosis, the directionally averaged kurtosis, has been shown to be useful in assessing pathophysiological changes, thus yielding another dimension of information to characterize water diffusion in biological tissues. In this study, orthogonal transformation of the 4th order diffusion kurtosis tensor was introduced to compute the diffusion kurtoses along the three eigenvector directions of the 2nd order diffusion tensor. Such axial (K(//)) and radial (K( upper left and right quadrants)) kurtoses measured the kurtoses along the directions parallel and perpendicular, respectively, to the principal diffusion direction. DKI experiments were performed in normal adult (N=7) and formalin-fixed rat brains (N=5). DKI estimates were documented for various white matter (WM) and gray matter (GM) tissues, and compared with the conventional diffusion tensor estimates. The results showed that kurtosis estimates revealed different information for tissue characterization. For example, K(//) and K( upper left and right quadrants) under formalin fixation condition exhibited large and moderate increases in WM while they showed little change in GM despite the overall dramatic decrease of axial and radial diffusivities in both WM and GM. These findings indicate that directional kurtosis analysis can provide additional microstructural information in characterizing neural tissues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity