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A combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor image to explore structure–function relationship in healthy and myelopathic spinal cord

Authors Cui JL, Li G, Mak KC, Luk KD, Hu Y

Received 5 July 2016

Accepted for publication 1 August 2016

Published 6 October 2016 Volume 2016:4 Pages 69—78


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Hari Shanker Sharma

Jiao-Long Cui,1 Guangsheng Li,2 Kin-Cheung Mak,1,3 Keith Dip-Kei Luk,1 Yong Hu1-3

1Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Orthopaedics, Spinal Division, Affiliated Hospital of Guangdong Medical University, Guangdong, 3Shenzhen Key Laboratory for Innovative Technology in Orthopaedic Trauma, The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China

Background: Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a degenerative disorder that can chronically damage the spinal cord. The aim of this study was to investigate the column-specific degeneration in the cervical cord with CSM and explore the structure–function relationship by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Patients and methods: DTI and blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) fMRI were obtained from 14 healthy controls and six patients with CSM at 3 T. The fractional anisotropy (FA) value of anterior, lateral, and posterior column and the BOLD signal in response to somatosensory stimulation were compared among three groups: the average value of levels from C3 to C8 in the control and CSM groups and the value at maximal compression site in the CSM (CSM-mc) group. The correlation between FA value and BOLD signal was used to assess the structure–function relationship.
Results: The FA value in CSM-mc was lower than control-ave in all the columns (P<0.01) and lower than CSM-ave in the lateral and posterior column (P<0.05). The BOLD signal in CSM was significantly higher than that in the control (P<0.001). In the posterior column, a significant correlation between BOLD signal and FA value was found (P<0.05).
Conclusion: This study demonstrated that the microstructural damage in CSM was correlated with functional changes. DTI combined with fMRI reveals the relationship between structural damage and neural activity, which might provide a promising method to reveal the underlying pathomechanism of CSM.

Keywords: spinal cord, fMRI, blood oxygen level dependent, diffusion tensor imaging, ­cervical spondylotic myelopathy

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