Visualisation of the extent of damage in a rat spinal cord injury model using MR Microscopy of the water diffusion tensor
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Magnetic Resonance Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) of the control and traumatic injured spinal cord of a rat in vitro is reported. Experiments were performed on excised spinal cords from 10 Wistar rats, using a home-built 6.4 T MR microscope. MRI and histopathological results were compared. Presented results show that DTI of the spinal cord, perfused with formalin 10 minutes after the injury, can detect changes in water diffusion in white matter (WM) and in gray matter (GM), in areas extending well beyond the region of direct impact. Histology of neurons of the GM shows changes that can be attributed to ischemia. This is in agreement with the observed decrease of diffusion in the injured regions, which may be attributed to the cytotoxic edema due to ischemia. However, the diffusion changes in highly anisotropic WM seem to be caused by a direct action of mechanical force of impact, which significantly distorts the nerve fibers.
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Artur T. Krzyzak, H. Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences, 152 Radzikowskiego St., 31-342 Krakow, Poland