Diffusion tensor MRI is used to define trajectories that reflect the long-range order of in vivo white matter (WM) fiber tracts. Fiber tracking is particularly prone to cumulative error from noise and partial volume along the length of the trajectory paths, but the overall shape of each path is anatomically meaningful. By considering only the long-range similarity of path shapes, a method of constructing 3D maps of specific WM structures has been developed. A trajectory is first computed from an operator-selected seed voxel, located within the anatomical structure of interest (SOI). Voxels from the same structure are then automatically identified based on the similarity of trajectory path shapes, assessed using Pearson's correlation coefficient. The corpus callosum and pyramidal tracts in 14 patients with multiple sclerosis, and in 10 healthy controls were mapped by this method, and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) was measured. The ADC was significantly higher in patients than in controls, and higher in the corpus callosum than in the pyramidal tracts for both groups. Using this method the different functional structures in the WM may be identified and mapped. Within these maps, MRI parameters can be measured for subsequent comparison with relevant clinical data.
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