Forty healthy subjects underwent T2WI, DTI, magnetization transfer, and T2*WI at 3T in
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: DTI, magnetization transfer, T2*-weighted imaging, and cross-sectional area can quantify aspects of spinal cord microstructure. However, clinical adoption remains elusive due to complex acquisitions, cumbersome analysis, limited reliability, and wide ranges of normal values. We propose a simple multiparametric protocol with automated analysis and report normative data, analysis of confounding variables, and reliability.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Forty healthy subjects underwent T2WI, DTI, magnetization transfer, and T2*WI at 3T in
RESULTS: T2*WI WM/GM showed lower intersubject coefficient of variation (3.5%) compared with magnetization transfer ratio (5.8%), fractional anisotropy (6.0%), and cross-sectional area (12.2%). Linear correction of cross-sectional area with cervical cord length, fractional anisotropy with age, and magnetization transfer ratio with age and height led to decreased coefficients of variation (4.8%, 5.4%, and 10.2%, respectively). Acceptable reliability was achieved for all metrics/levels (test-retest coefficient of variation <5%), with T2*WI WM/GM comparing favorably with fractional anisotropy and magnetization transfer ratio. DTI with and without cardiac triggering showed no significant differences for fractional anisotropy and test-retest coefficient of variation.
CONCLUSIONS: Reliable multiparametric assessment of spinal cord microstructure is possible by using clinically suitable methods. These results establish normalization procedures and pave the way for clinical studies, with the potential for improving diagnostics, objectively monitoring disease progression, and predicting outcomes in spinal pathologies.