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Aim  The aim of this study was to compare the findings of quantitative diffusion tensor tractography of the motor and sensory tracts in children with cerebral palsy (CP) and typically developed comparison individuals, and also to evaluate the correlation with gross motor function.

Method  Thirty-four children with CP (mean age 2y 2.mo, SD 2y 0mo; 19 with spastic diplegia, eight with hemiplegia, six with spastic quadriplegia, and one with spastic triplegia) and 21 healthy comparison children (mean 2y 1.68mo, SD 2y 8.64mo) were evaluated. The distribution of Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) levels in the CP group was as follows: level I, 7; level II, 14; level III, 5; level IV, 3; and level V, 5. The following three diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) parameters including tractography were evaluated for each tract (corticospinal tract [CST] and posterior thalamic radiation [PTR]): number of fibres, tract-based fractional anisotropy, and region of interest (ROI)-based fractional anisotropy. We compared each value between the two groups, and correlated each value with the GMFCS level.

Results  The number of fibres and ROI-based fractional anisotropy values of both tracts were significantly lower in children with CP than in the comparison group (p<0.05–0.001). Additionally, there was significant negative correlation between GMFCS level and motor–sensory parameters (p<0.001–0.05).

Interpretation  DTI parameters of the CST and PTR in children with CP were significantly lower than in comparison children. In addition, these parameters were significantly correlated with GMFCS level.