Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Evaluation of Human Skeletal Muscle Injury

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To explore the capability and reliability of diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI) in the evaluation of human skeletal muscle injury.

Materials and Methods:

DTI of four patients with gastrocnemius and soleus muscles injuries was compared to eight healthy controls. Imaging was performed using a GE 3.0T short-bore scanner. A diffusion-weighted 2D spin echo echo-planar imaging (EPI) pulse sequence optimized for skeletal muscle was used. From a series of axially acquired diffusion tensor images the diffusion tensor eigenparameters (eigenvalues and eigenvectors), fractional anisotropy (FA), and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) were calculated and compared for injured and healthy calf muscles. Two dimensional (2D) projection maps of the principal eigenvectors were plotted to visualize the healthy and pathologic muscle fiber architectures.


Clear differences in FA and ADC were observed in injured skeletal muscle, compared to healthy controls. Mean control FA was 0.23 ± 0.02 for medial and lateral gastrocnemius (mg and lg) muscles, and 0.20 ± 0.02 for soleus (sol) muscles. In all patients FA values were reduced compared to controls, to as low as 0.08 ± 0.02. The ADC in controls ranged from 1.41 to 1.31 × 10–9 m2/second, while in patients this was consistently higher. The 2D projection maps revealed muscle fiber disorder in injured calves, while in healthy controls the 2D projection maps show a well organized (ordered) fiber structure.


DTI is a suitable method to assess human calf muscle injury.

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