Diffusion MR imaging in multiple sclerosis: Technical aspects and challenges

E. Pagani, R. Bammer, M. A. Horsfield, M. Rovaris, A. Gass, O. Ciccarelli, Massimo Filippi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diffusion tensor (DT) MR imaging has frequently been applied in multiple sclerosis (MS) because of its ability to detect and quantify disease-related changes of the tissue microstructure within and outside T2-visible lesions. DT MR imaging data collection places high demands on scanner hardware and, though the acquisition and postprocessing can be relatively straightforward, numerous challenges remain in improving the reproducibility of this technique. Although there are some issues concerning image quality, echo-planar imaging is the most widely used acquisition scheme for diffusion imaging studies. Once the DT is estimated, indexes conveying the size, shape, and orientation of the DT can be calculated and further analyzed by using either histogram- or region-of-interest-based analyses. Because the orientation of the DT reflects the orientation of the axonal fibers of the brain, the pathways of the major white matter tracts can also be visualized. The DT model of diffusion, however, is not sufficient to characterize the diffusion properties of the brain when complex populations of fibers are present in a single voxel, and new ways to address this issue have been proposed. Two developments have enabled considerable improvements in the application of DT MR imaging: high magnetic field strengths and multicoil receiver arrays with parallel imaging. This review critically discusses models, acquisition, and postprocessing approaches that are currently available for DT MR imaging, as well as their limitations and possible improvements, to provide a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of this technique and a background for designing diffusion studies in MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-420
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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