MR imaging of compact white matter pathways

J. T. Curnes, P. C. Burger, W. T. Djang, O. B. Boyko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


A prominent decreased signal intensity can be seen in many of the heavily myelinated, compact fiber pathways of the brain on T2-weighted spin-echo MR images (TR = 2500 msec, TE = 80 msec). These areas include the anterior commissure, internal capsule, optic tract and radiations, fornix, mammillothalamic tract, superior frontooccipital fasciculus, cingulum, corpus callosum, uncinate fasciculus, and superior longitudinal fasciculus. All these pathways could be identified in normal subjects 3 years old and older when 1.5-T axial and coronal images of 50 adults and 17 children were reviewed. Correlation of the in vivo and postmortem MR appearance of two human brains with Perls and Luxol fast blue stains indicates that the short T2 reflects heavy myelination and fiber density, not iron deposition. This is in contrast to the short T2 signal seen in the subcortical U fibers and deep nuclei of the brain that result from iron deposition. These pathways also differ from areas of brain iron accumulation in that (1) they may appear as areas of short T1 on partial-saturation or inversion-recovery pulse sequences and (2) they can be seen with regularity in all patients over 3 years of age. It is important to distinguish between the effect of the myelin sheath and the effect of brain iron on the T2 relaxation values seen in the normal brain since both result in shortened T2 relaxation. The importance of the role of these fiber tracts in disease processes and in modifying the spread of vasogenic edema and tumor needs further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1068
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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