Human cervical spinal cord funiculi: investigation with magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2010 Apr;31(4):829-37. doi: 10.1002/jmri.22101.


Purpose: To use spinal cord diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for investigating human cervical funiculi, acquire axial diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data with an in-plane resolution sufficient to delineate subquadrants within the spinal cord, obtain corresponding DTI metrics, and assess potential regional differences.

Materials and methods: Healthy volunteers were studied with a 3 T Siemens Trio MRI scanner. DTI data were acquired using a single-shot spin echo EPI sequence. The spatial resolution allowed for the delineation of regions of interest (ROIs) in the ventral, dorsal, and lateral spinal cord funiculi. ROI-based and tractography-based analyses were performed.

Results: Significant fractional anisotropy (FA) differences were found between ROIs in the dorsal and ventral funiculi (P = 0.0001), dorsal and lateral funiculi (P = 0.015), and lateral and ventral funiculi (P = 0.0002). Transverse diffusivity was significantly different between ROIs in the ventral and dorsal funiculi (P = 0.003) and the ventral and lateral funiculi (P = 0.004). Tractography-based quantifications revealed DTI parameter regional differences that were generally consistent with the ROI-based analysis.

Conclusion: Original contributions are: 1) the use of a tractography-based method to quantify DTI metrics in the human cervical spinal cord, and 2) reported DTI values in various funiculi at 3 T.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anisotropy
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers / pathology*
  • Spinal Cord / anatomy & histology
  • Spinal Cord / pathology*
  • Whole Body Imaging / methods