Diffusion Tensor Imaging Assessment of Regional White Matter Changes in the Cervical and Thoracic Spinal Cord in Pediatric Subjects

Sona Saksena, Feroze B. Mohamed, Devon M. Middleton, Laura Krisa, Mahdi Alizadeh, Shiva Shahrampour, Chris J. Conklin, Adam Flanders, Jürgen Finsterbusch, Mary Jane Mulcahey, Scott H. Faro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


There are no studies to date,describing changes in the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) metrics of the white matter (WM) regions of the entire cervical and thoracic spinal cord (SC) remote from the lesion in pediatric spinal cord injury (SCI) subjects. The purpose of this study was to determine whether DTI at sites cephalad and caudal to a lesion provides measures of cord abnormalities in children with chronic SCI. A retrospective study included 10 typically developing subjects (TD) and 10 subjects with chronic SCI who underwent SC imaging in 2014-2017. Axial diffusion tensor images using an inner field of view DTI sequence were acquired to cover the entire cervical and thoracic SC. Regions of interest were drawn on the SC WM: right and left lateral (motor), ventral (motor), and dorsal (sensory) tracts. To detect differences in DTI metrics between TD and SCI of the cord, a one way analysis of variance with pooled t test was performed. A stepwise regression analysis was performed to assess the correlation between DTI metrics and clinical scores. In motor and sensory tracts, fractional anisotropy (FA) and axial diffusivity (AD) were significantly decreased in the proximal segments of the caudal cord. In motor tracts cephalad to the lesion, FA was significantly decreased whereas AD was significantly increased in the proximal segment; however, AD was decreased in the distal and middle segments. International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury (ISNCSCI) total score was significantly correlated with FA and AD of the motor and sensory tracts cephalad to the lesion. This study demonstrates that FA and AD have the potential to be sensitive biomarkers of the full extent of cord injury and might be useful in detecting remote injuries to the SC and in guiding new treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-861
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019


  • DTI
  • ISNCSCI score
  • SC
  • SCI
  • WM
  • motor and sensory tracts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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