Assessing atrophy of the major white matter fiber bundles of the brain from diffusion tensor MRI data

Elisabetta Pagani, Mark A. Horsfield, Maria A. Rocca, Massimo Filippi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brain atrophy is a typical feature of many neurological conditions. Therefore, quantitative evaluation and spatial characterization of atrophy are potentially useful for monitoring the evolution of central nervous system (CNS) disorders. In this study, a method for measuring atrophy of the major white matter (WM) fiber bundles in the brain using diffusion tensor (DT) MRI data is developed. To this end, an atlas was created from sets of diffusion anisotropy images from normal subjects, and the deformations necessary to match single subject anisotropy images to this atlas were then computed. Because diffusion anisotropy images were used, this approach should be sensitive to fiber bundle volume changes in the same way that using T 1,-weighted images allows gray matter volume changes to be measured. The Jacobian determinant of the deformation field for each subject was then used as a measure of contraction or expansion of the tissue at each image voxel. An overview of the nonlinear registration problem is given; then an optimization of the parameters for the chosen algorithm is performed and the method for producing the atlas is described. The effectiveness of the method was then tested on data from five patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and two patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-534
Number of pages8
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007


  • Atrophy
  • Fractional anisotrophy
  • MRI, diffusion tensor imaging
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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