Diffusion tensor imaging and tractography of the spinal cord: From experimental studies to clinical application

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Abstract

Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging provides detailed information about biological structures. In particular, diffusion tensor imaging and diffusion tensor tractography (DTT) are powerful tools for evaluating white matter fibers in the central nervous system. We previously established a reproducible spinal cord injury model in adult common marmosets and showed that DTT could be used to trace the neural tracts in the intact and injured spinal cord of these animals in vivo. Recently, many reports using DTT to analyze the spinal cord area have been published. Based on the findings from our experimental studies, we are now routinely performing DTT of the human spinal cord in the clinic. In this review we outline the basic principles of DTT, and describe the characteristics, limitations, and future uses of DTT to examine the spinal cord.

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