Neurite Orientation Dispersion and Density Imaging Color Maps to Characterize Brain Diffusion in Neurologic Disorders

E. Caverzasi, N. Papinutto, Antonella Castellano, Alyssa H. Zhu, Paola Scifo, Marco Riva, Lorenzo Bello, Andrea Falini, Aditya Bharatha, R. G. Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging (NODDI) has recently been developed to overcome diffusion technique limitations in modeling biological systems. This manuscript reports a preliminary investigation into the use of a single color-coded map to represent NODDI-derived information. MATERIALS AND METHODS: An optimized diffusion-weighted imaging protocol was acquired in several clinical neurological contexts including demyelinating disease, neoplastic process, stroke, and toxic/metabolic disease. The NODDI model was fitted to the diffusion datasets. NODDI is based on a three-compartment diffusion model and provides maps that quantify the contributions to the total diffusion signal in each voxel. The NODDI compartment maps were combined into a single 4-dimensional volume visualized as RGB image (red for anisotropic Gaussian diffusion, green for non-Gaussian anisotropic diffusion, and blue for isotropic Gaussian diffusion), in which the relative contributions of the different microstructural compartments can be easily appreciated. RESULTS: The NODDI color maps better describe the heterogeneity of neoplastic as well inflammatory lesions by identifying different tissue components within areas apparently homogeneous on conventional imaging. Moreover, NODDI color maps seem to be useful for identifying vasogenic edema differently from tumor-infiltrated edema. In multiple sclerosis, the NODDI color maps enable a visual assessment of the underlying microstructural changes, possibly highlighting an increased inflammatory component, within lesions and potentially in normal-appearing white matter. CONCLUSION: The NODDI color maps could make this technique valuable in a clinical setting, providing comprehensive and accessible information in normal and pathological brain tissues in different neurological pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-498
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroimaging
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2016


  • color map
  • diffusion
  • glioma
  • neurite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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