Purpose: To assess the impact of a different distortion correction (DC) method and patient geometry (sagittal balance) on the quality of spinal cord tractography rendering according to different tractography approaches. Methods: Forty-four adults free of spinal cord diseases underwent cervical diffusion-weighted imaging. The phase-encoding direction was head→foot. Sequence with opposed polarities (foot→head) was acquired to perform DC. Eddy-current, motion effects, and susceptibility artifact correction methods were used for DC, and two deterministic and one probabilistic tractography approaches were evaluated using MRtrix and DSI Studio tractography software. Fiber length and number of fibers were extracted to evaluate the quality of the tractography rendering. For each subject, cervical lordosis was measured to assess patient geometry. The angle between the main direction of the spinal cord and the orientation of the acquisition box were computed at each spine level to assess acquisition geometry and define an angle threshold for which a tractography of good quality is no longer possible. Results: There was a significant improvement in tractography quality after performing DC with susceptibility artifact correction using a deterministic approach based on tensor. Before DC, the angle threshold was defined at C6 (15.2°) compared with C7 (21.9°) after corrections, demonstrating the importance of spinal cord angulation for DC. Conclusion: The impact of DC on tractography quality is greatly impacted by acquisition geometry. To obtain a good-quality tractography, we propose as a future perspective to adapt the acquisition geometry to that of the patient by automatically adjusting the acquisition box.
- diffusion magnetic resonance imaging
- diffusion-weighted imaging
- distortion artifact correction
- eddy current
- motion effect
- sagittal balance
- spinal cord