White matter fractional anisotropy (FA), a measure suggesting microstructure, is significantly underestimated with single diffusion tensor model at crossing-fiber regions (CFR). We propose a tract-specific FA (TSFA), corrected for the effects of crossing-fiber geometry and free water at CFR, and adapted for tract analysis with diffusion MRI (dMRI) in clinical research.Methods:
At CFR voxels, the proposed technique estimates free water fraction (fiso) as a linear function of mean apparent diffusion coefficient (mADC), fits the dual tensors and estimates TSFA. Digital phantoms were designed for testing the accuracy of fiso and fitted dual-anisotropies at CFR. The technique was applied to clinical dMRI of normal subjects and hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) patients to test the effectiveness of TSFA.Results:
Phantom simulation showed unbiased estimates of dual-tensor anisotropies at CFR and high accuracy of fiso as a linear function of mADC. TSFA at CFR was highly consistent to the single tensor FA at non-CFR within the same tract with normal human dMRI. Additional HSP imaging biomarkers with significant correlation to clinical motor function scores could be identified with TSFA.Conclusion:
Results suggest the potential of the proposed technique in estimating unbiased TSFA at CFR and conducting tract analysis in clinical research. Magn Reson Med 74:1768–1779, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.