Glaucoma is an optic neuropathy affecting the entire visual system. The understanding of the glaucoma mechanism and causes remains unresolved. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has been used to analyze the optic nerve and optic radiation showing global fiber abnormalities associated with glaucoma. Nevertheless, the complex structure of the optic radiation and the limitations of DTI make the localization of the glaucoma effect a difficult task. The aim of this work is to establish a framework for the determination of the local changes of the optic radiation due to glaucoma using DTI. The proposed system utilizes a semiautomated algorithm to produce an efficient identification of the optic radiation. Segmented optic radiations are transformed to a unified space using shape-based nonrigid registration. Using the deformation fields that resulted from the registration, the maps of the diffusion tensor-derived parameters are transformed to the unified space. This allows for statistical voxel-wise analysis to produce significant abnormality maps. The proposed system is applied to a group of 13 glaucoma patients and a normal control group of 10 subjects. The groups are age matched to eliminate the age effect on the analysis. Diffusion-related parameters (axial, radial and mean diffusivities) and an anisotropy index (fractional anisotropy) are studied. The anisotropy analysis indicates that the majority of the significant voxels show decreased fractional anisotropy in the glaucoma patients compared with the control group. In addition, the significant regions are mainly distributed in the middle (in reference to anterior-posterior orientation) of the optic radiation. Glaucoma subjects have increased radial diffusivity and mean diffusivity significant voxels with a main concentration in the proximal part of the right optic radiation. The proposed analysis provides a framework to capture the significant local changes of the optic radiation due to glaucoma. The preliminary analysis suggests that the glaucomatous optic radiation may suffer from localized white matter degeneration. The framework facilitates further studies and understanding of the pathophysiology of glaucoma.
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