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Keywords:

  • diffusion tensor imaging;
  • magnetic resonance elastography;
  • anisotropic inversions;
  • white matter tracts;
  • waveguide elastography, DTI, MRE

Abstract

White matter is composed primarily of myelinated axons which form fibrous, organized structures and can act as waveguides for the anisotropic propagation of sound. The evaluation of their elastic properties requires both knowledge of the orientation of these waveguides in space, as well as knowledge of the waves propagating along and through them. Here, we present waveguide elastography for the evaluation of the elastic properties of white matter tracts in the human brain, in vivo, using a fusion of diffusion tensor imaging, magnetic resonance elastography, spatial-spectral filtering, a Helmholtz decomposition, and anisotropic inversions, and apply this method to evaluate the material parameters of the corticospinal tracts of five healthy human volunteers. We begin with an Orthotropic inversion model and demonstrate that redundancies in the solution for the nine elastic coefficients indicate that the corticospinal tracts can be approximated by a Hexagonal model (transverse isotropy) comprised of five elastic coefficients representative of a medium with fibers aligned parallel to a central axis, and provides longitudinal and transverse wave velocities on the order of 5.7 m/s and 2.1 m/s, respectively. This method is intended as a new modality to assess white matter structure and health by means of the evaluation of the anisotropic elasticity tensor of nerve fibers. Magn Reson Med, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.