Diffusion tensor imaging to visualize axons in the setting of nerve injury and recovery

Thomas Anthony Gallagher, Neil G. Simon, Michel Kliot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Successful management of peripheral nerve trauma relies on accurate localization of the injury and grading of the severity of nerve injury to determine whether surgical intervention is required. Existing techniques, such as electrodiagnostic studies and conventional imaging modalities, provide important information, but are limited by being unable to distinguish severe nerve lesions in continuity that will recover from those that will not. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and tractography of peripheral nerves provide a novel technique to localize and grade nerve injury, by assessing the integrity of the nerve fibers across the site of nerve injury. Diffusion tensor imaging and tractography also hold promise as markers of early nerve regeneration, prior to clinical and electrodiagnostic evidence of recovery. In the present review, the techniques of peripheral nerve DTI and tractography are discussed with respect to peripheral nerve trauma, with illustrative cases demonstrating potential roles of these novel approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE10
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • MRI
  • Nerve regeneration
  • Peripheral nerve trauma
  • Tractography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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