Diffusion tensor imaging

What is diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)?

DTI is a specialised imaging technique that uses MRI technology to investigate the movement of water within tissues of interest. By applying a magnetic field, the movement (“diffusivity”) of water molecules can be visualised in vivo. The diffusion of water is influenced by the cellular structure of the surrounding tissues, and measures such as fractional anisotropy (FA) were derived as an approximate measurement for the freedom of movement. In areas of high structural coherence such as white matter, FA is highest, indicating that water is moving in relatively fixed directions. It is lower in grey matter, and close to zero in cerebrospinal fluid, indicating that water is moving freely. Consequently, changes in FA values are interpreted to be representing alterations in the structural integrity of the regional white matter.

What is the evidence for DTI brain structure?

Moderate to high quality evidence suggests schizophrenia is associated with significantly reduced fractional anisotropy in the frontal lobe (medial and lateral), splenium of corpus callosum, anterior cingulate gyrus, middle and superior temporal gyri, internal and external capsules, parahippocampal gyrus, and occipital lobe. First episode schizophrenia was associated with changes in internal and external capsules only. Moderate to low quality evidence suggests reduced FA in the genu of the corpus callosum, posterior cingulate, hippocampus, entorhinal gyrus, fusiform gyrus, amygdala, parietal lobe, arcuate fasciculus, and cerebellum.

March 2019

Last updated at: 2:42 am, 28th March 2019
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