Anna Banaszek, Joanna Bladowska, Paweł Szewczyk, Przemysław Podgórski, Marek Sąsiadek

June 2014, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1523 - 1530 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-014-3323-x

First Online: 11 May 2014


The aim of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in the detection of cervical spinal cord integrity alterations in different stages of degenerative spine disease, as well as to compare DTI parameters with selected cervical spinal stenosis measurements.


One hundred and thirty-two symptomatic patients (mean age 53.58 years) with different stages of cervical spondylosis and twenty-five control subjects (mean age 45.78 years) were enrolled in the study. DTI was performed with a 1.5 T MR scanner. Three hundred and forty-nine spine segments from C2/C3 to C5/C6 were evaluated and divided into five groups according to the degree of spinal cord compression. The values of fractional anisotropy (FA) and apparent diffusion coefficient at each level were calculated and their correlations with the degree of stenosis were analyzed.


FA values differed significantly (p < 0.0001) at all levels between the control group and patients with cervical degenerative disease, including subjects without spinal cord compression visible on plain MR images. A significant (p < 0.01) positive correlation between the mean FA values and anteroposterior diameter of the spinal canal as well as space available for the spinal cord index was demonstrated at all investigated levels.


DTI is capable of revealing impairment of the cervical spinal cord microstructure at the very early stage of degenerative spine disease, even prior to spinal cord compression visible on plain MR. Anteroposterior spinal canal diameter as well as space available for the cord index is well related to spinal cord tissue integrity defined by DTI.

Read Full Article