Utility of Diffusion Basis Spectrum Imaging in Quantifying Baseline Disease Severity and Prognosis of Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy

Justin K. Zhang, Peng Sun, Dinal Jayasekera, Jacob K. Greenberg, Saad Javeed, Christopher F. Dibble, Jacob Blum, Chunyu Song, Sheng Kwei Song, Wilson Z. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Study Design. Prospective cohort study. Objective. The aim was to assess the association between diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and diffusion basis spectrum imaging (DBSI) measures and cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) clinical assessments at baseline and two-year follow-up. Summary of Background Data. Despite advancements in diffusion-weighted imaging, few studies have examined associations between diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) markers and CSM-specific clinical domains at baseline and long-term follow-up. Materials and Methods. A single-center prospective cohort study enrolled 50 CSM patients who underwent surgical decompression and 20 controls from 2018 to 2020. At initial evaluation, all patients underwent diffusion-weighted MRI acquisition, followed by DTI and DBSI analyses. Diffusion-weighted MRI metrics assessed white matter integrity by fractional anisotropy, axial diffusivity, radial diffusivity, and fiber fraction. To improve estimations of intra-axonal anisotropic diffusion, DBSI measures intra-/extra-axonal fraction and intra-axonal axial diffusivity. DBSI also evaluates extra-axonal isotropic diffusion by restricted and nonrestricted fraction. Clinical assessments were performed at baseline and two-year follow-up and included the modified Japanese Orthopedic Association (mJOA); 36-Item Short Form Survey physical component summary (SF-36 PCS); SF-36 mental component summary; neck disability index; myelopathy disability index; and disability of the arm, shoulder, and hand. Pearson correlation coefficients were computed to compare associations between DTI/DBSI and clinical measures. A False Discovery Rate correction was applied for multiple comparisons testing. Results. At baseline presentation, of 36 correlations analyzed between DTI metrics and CSM clinical measures, only DTI fractional anisotropy showed a positive correlation with SF-36 PCS (r=0.36, P=0.02). In comparison, there were 30/81 (37%) significant correlations among DBSI and clinical measures. Increased DBSI axial diffusivity, intra-axonal axial diffusivity, intra-axonal fraction, restricted fraction, and extra-axonal anisotropic fraction were associated with worse clinical presentation (decreased mJOA; SF-36 PCS/mental component summary; and increased neck disability index; myelopathy disability index; disability of the arm, shoulder, and hand). At latest follow-up, increased preoperative DBSI intra-axonal axial diffusivity and extra-axonal anisotropic fraction were significantly correlated with improved mJOA. Conclusions. This findings demonstrate that DBSI measures may reflect baseline disease burden and long-term prognosis of CSM as compared with DTI. With further validation, DBSI may serve as a noninvasive biomarker following decompressive surgery. Level of Evidence. 3.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1687-1693
Number of pages7
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2022


  • MRI
  • cervical spondylotic myelopathy
  • diffusion basis spectrum imaging
  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • diffusion-weighted MRI


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