Diffusion tensor imaging and fibre tracking in cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Eur Radiol. 2011 Feb;21(2):426-33. doi: 10.1007/s00330-010-1927-z. Epub 2010 Aug 20.


Objectives: To (1) obtain microstructural parameters (Fractional Anisotropy: FA, Mean Diffusivity: MD) of the cervical spinal cord in patients suffering from cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) using tractography, (2) to compare DTI parameters with the clinical assessment of these patients (3) and with information issued from conventional sequences.

Methods: DTI was performed on 20 symptomatic patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy, matched with 15 volunteers. FA and MD were calculated from tractography images at the C2-C3 level and compressed level in patients and at the C2-C3 and C4-C7 in controls. Patients were clinically evaluated using a self-administered questionnaire.

Results: The FA values of patients were significantly lower at the compressed level than the FA of volunteers at the C4-C7 level. A significant positive correlation between FA at the compressed level and clinical assessment was demonstrated. Increased signal intensity on T2-weighted images did not correlate either with FA or MD values, or with any of the clinical scores.

Conclusion: FA values were significantly correlated with some of the patients' clinical scores. High signal intensity of the spinal cord on T2 was not correlated either with the DTI parameters or with the clinical assessment, suggesting that FA is more sensitive than T2 imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spinal Cord Compression / etiology*
  • Spinal Cord Compression / pathology*
  • Spondylosis / complications*
  • Spondylosis / pathology*