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Original Research | Open Access

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

Jiao-Long Cui1Guangsheng Li2Kin-Cheung Mak1,3Keith Dip-Kei Luk1Yong Hu1,2,3( )
Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China
Department of Orthopaedics, Spinal Division, Affiliated Hospital of Guangdong Medical University, Guangdong,
Shenzhen Key Laboratory for Innovative Technology in Orthopaedic Trauma, The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China
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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.


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).


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.


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Journal of Neurorestoratology
Pages 69-78
Cite this article:
Cui J-L, Li G, Mak K-C, et al. A combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor image to explore structure-function relationship in healthy and myelopathic spinal cord. Journal of Neurorestoratology, 2016, 4(1): 69-78.








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Published: 06 October 2016
© 2016 The Author(s).

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