OBJECTIVE: To determine the potential of directional diffusivities from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to predict clinical outcome of optic neuritis (ON), and correlate with vision, optical coherence tomography (OCT), and visual evoked potentials (VEP). METHODS: Twelve cases of acute and isolated ON were imaged within 30 days of onset and followed prospectively. Twenty-eight subjects with a remote clinical history of ON were studied cross-sectionally. Twelve healthy controls were imaged for comparison. DTI data were acquired at 3T with a surface coil and 1.3 × 1.3 × 1.3 mm isotropic voxels. RESULTS: Normal DTI parameters (mean ± SD, μm/ms) were axial diffusivity = 1.66 ± 0.18, radial diffusivity = 0.81 ± 0.26, apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) = 1.09 ± 0.21, and fractional anisotropy (FA) = 0.43 ± 0.15. Axial diffusivity decreased up to 2.5 SD in acute ON. The decrease in axial diffusivity at onset correlated with visual contrast sensitivity 1 month (r = 0.59) and 3 months later (r = 0.65). In three subjects followed from the acute through the remote stage, radial diffusivity subsequently increased to >2.5 SD above normal, as did axial diffusivity and ADC. In remote ON, radial diffusivity correlated with OCT (r = 0.81), contrast sensitivity (r = 0.68), visual acuity (r = 0.56), and VEP (r = 0.54). CONCLUSION: In acute and isolated demyelination, axial diffusivity merits further investigation as a predictor of future clinical outcome. Diffusion parameters are dynamic in acute and isolated optic neuritis, with an initial acute decrease in axial diffusivity. In remote disease, radial diffusivity correlates with functional, structural, and physiologic tests of vision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-594
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 17 2009


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