Water diffusion anisotropy in white and gray matter of the human spinal cord

Cristina Rossi, Andreas Boss, Günter Steidle, Petros Martirosian, Uwe Klose, Silvia Capuani, Bruno Maraviglia, Claus D. Claussen, Fritz Schick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: To develop a reliable technique for diffusion imaging of the human spinal cord at 1.5 Tesla and to assess potential differences in diffusion anisotropy in cross-sectional images. Materials and Methods: A single-shot echo-planar imaging sequence with double spin-echo diffusion preparation was optimized regarding cerebrospinal fluid artifacts, effective resolution, and contrast-to-noise ratios. Eleven healthy volunteers participated in the study for quantitative characterization of diffusion anisotropy in white matter (WM) and gray matter (GM) by means of two diffusion encoding schemes: octahedral-six-directions for fractional anisotropy (FA) evaluation and orthogonal-three-directions for anisotropy index (AI) calculation. Results: Pulse-trigger gated sequences with optimal matrix size (read x phase = 64 x 32) and b-value (700 s/mm 2) allowed the acquisition of high-resolved images (voxel size = 0.9 x 0.9 x 5.0 mm 3). The GM butterfly shape was recognizable in both AI and FA maps. Both encoding schemes yielded high diffusion anisotropy in dorsal WM (FA = 0.79 ± 0.07; AI = 0.39 ± 0.04). Lateral WM showed slightly lower anisotropy (FA = 0.69 ± 0.08; AI = 0.35 ± 0.03) than dorsal WM. Clearly smaller anisotropy was found in regions containing GM (FA = 0.45 ± 0.06; AI = 0.21 ± 0.05). Conclusion: Diffusion anisotropy data of the spinal cord can be obtained in a clinical setting. Its application seems promising for the assessment of neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-482
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • DTI
  • Gray matter anisotropy
  • Spinal cord
  • White matter anisotropy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology

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    Rossi, C., Boss, A., Steidle, G., Martirosian, P., Klose, U., Capuani, S., Maraviglia, B., Claussen, C. D., & Schick, F. (2008). Water diffusion anisotropy in white and gray matter of the human spinal cord. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 27(3), 476-482. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmri.21252