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Magn Reson Med. 2006 Aug;56(2):235-9.

Water diffusion heterogeneity index in the human brain is insensitive to the orientation of applied magnetic field gradients.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53226, USA.


The alpha diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) method was developed to study heterogeneous water diffusion in the human brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An advantage of this model is that it does not require an assumption about the shape of the intravoxel distribution of apparent diffusion rates, and it has a calculable relationship to this distribution. The alpha-DWI technique is useful for detecting microstructural tissue changes associated with brain tumor invasion, and may be useful for directing therapy to invading tumor cells. In previous work, alpha-DWI was performed with magnetic field gradients applied along a single direction in order to avoid artificially introducing a source of heterogeneity to the decay. However, it is known that restricted diffusion is anisotropic in the brain, and the alpha-DWI method must take this into account to be complete. In this work the relationship between the applied magnetic field gradients and the fitted stretched-exponential model parameters was studied in the human brain. It was found the distributed diffusion coefficient (DDC) varies with the direction of applied gradients, while the heterogeneity index alpha is relatively direction-insensitive. It is proposed that in clinical use, maps of alpha can be created using diffusion-weighting gradients applied in a single direction that reflect the tissue heterogeneity.

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