Date Published:2006 Nov
MR diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) of the brain and spine provides a unique tool for both visualizing directionality and assessing intactness of white matter fiber tracts in vivo. At the spatial resolution of clinical MRI, much of primate white matter is composed of interdigitating fibers. Analyses based on an assumed single diffusion tensor per voxel yield important information about the average diffusion in the voxel but fail to reveal structure in the presence of crossing tracts. Until today, all clinical scans assume only one tensor, causing potential serious errors in tractography. Since high angular resolution imaging remains, so far, untenable for routine clinical use, a method is proposed whereby the single-tensor field is augmented with additional information gleaned from standard clinical DTI. The method effectively resolves two distinct tract directions within voxels, in which only two tracts are assumed to exist. The underlying constrained two-tensor model is fitted in two stages, utilizing the information present in the single-tensor fit. As a result, the necessary MRI time can be drastically reduced when compared with other approaches, enabling widespread clinical use. Upon evaluation in simulations and application to in vivo human brain DTI data, the method appears to be robust and practical and, if correctly applied, could elucidate tract directions at critical points of uncertainty.