The Functional Relevance of Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Patients with Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy

Stefania d'Avanzo, Marco Ciavarro, Luigi Pavone, Gabriele Pasqua, Francesco Ricciardi, Marcello Bartolo, Domenico Solari, Teresa Somma, Oreste de Divitiis, Paolo Cappabianca, Gualtiero Innocenzi

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(1) Background: In addition to conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has been investigated as a potential diagnostic and predictive tool for patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM). In this preliminary study, we evaluated the use of quantitative DTI in the clinical practice as a possible measure to correlate with upper limbs function. (2) Methods: A total of 11 patients were enrolled in this prospective observational study. Fractional anisotropy (FA) values was extracted from DTI data before and after surgery using a GE Signa 1.5 T MRI scanner. The Nine-Hole Peg Test and a digital dynamometer were used to measure dexterity and hand strength, respectively. (3) Results: We found a significant increase of FA values after surgery, in particular below the most compressed level (p = 0.044) as well as an improvement in postoperative dexterity and hand strength. Postoperative FA values moderately correlate with hand dexterity (r = 0.4272, R₂ = 0.0735, p = 0.19 for the right hand; r = 0.2087, R₂ = 0.2265, p = 0.53 for the left hand). (4) Conclusion: FA may be used as a marker of myelopathy and could represent a promising diagnostic value in patients affected by DCM. Surgical decompression can improve the clinical outcome of these patients, especially in terms of the control of finger-hand coordination and dexterity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 11 2020


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