How DTI Is Aiding Studies of Concussions, Chronic Fatigue and Autism

Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) exams are receiving more and more attention in the public and medical field because of the light they have shed on certain neurological and mental conditions. DTI is an advanced form of MRI technology that is able to closely follow the flow of water throughout the brain’s pathways giving doctors a better understanding of brain injuries and connectivity.


DTI is used for determining the extent of brain damage from causes such as concussions. Concussions can happen during car accidents and other serious head injuries.

MRIs vs DTI for Concussions

Unlike conventional MRIs that use magnetic fields and computer technology to excite and then map the hydrogen atoms of the body, DTI machinery tracks the pathway of water throughout the brain. Because water in the brain only goes in one direction, it is easier to track this motion and thus map the different nerve paths of the brain as they are very complex and convoluted.

Once the nerve pathways are clearly mapped, neurologists can see if there is damage, bleeds or symptoms of other neurological or mental conditions.

Thanks to DTI, concussions are now being more thoroughly imaged. Before the advanced technology of DTI, concussions could be examined through conventional MRIs but small bleeds and nerve damage were always difficult to identify — especially in the white matter areas of the brain. Now, doctors can track the nerve pathways in the brain with high clarity and understand the genetic and biological causes of some medical conditions.

DTI and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Recently, DTI has been used to identify brain abnormalities that lead to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Feeling fatigued is not an unusual symptom to have, but for some people, fatigue cannot be fought with adequate sleep or stress-relieving activities. Thanks to imaging techniques, the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome have finally been identified.

In a 2014 study published online in the journal Radiology, researchers found that those complaining of CFS symptoms had “lower white matter volume” as well as high FA values (measurement of diffusion of water in the specific tract within the right hemisphere), suggesting that this is the area of the brain where “the more abnormal the tract, the worse the fatigue.”

DTI, Fragile X and Autism

In another 2014 study, DTI was instrumental in uncovering the area of the brain that possibly contributes to autism. Scientists determined that Fragile X syndrome is the leading cause of mental developmental issues and the most frequent cause of autism spectrum disorders. Their conclusion found that FMRP (fragile X mental retardation protein) is critical in brain development and that if the correct positioning of brain cells during the development of the cortex is not made, autistic traits can emerge as a child becomes older. Source: Scientists at VIB and KU Leuven (Belgium), in collaboration with Tor Vergata University (Italy) and VU University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

DTI Now Available at Doctors Imaging

These factors could not have been studied in such high detail without the help of DTI. This advanced imaging technology could help scientists find the causes and cures for more diseases and conditions in the years to come.
Doctors Imaging is the first facility in Louisiana to offer DTI exams. If you have more questions about the symptoms of concussion, loss of sensation after a head injury or how DTI works, please visit the dedicated website TheConcussionGroup.com.

Using Medical Imaging to Diagnose Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that attacks the protective layers surrounding the nerve tracts in the brain and can cause difficulty walking as well as pain performing everyday movements. Every case of MS and MS symptoms are different. Some people have symptoms that resolve in a few weeks or months. But for others, the condition has a much more permanent presence in their life.

Multiple Sclerosis is a common disease, yet difficult to track. Because global health institutions do not mandate that doctors report new cases and because symptoms can be invisible for many years, there is no definitive number of those diagnosed with MS every year. Some experts estimate that there are about 2.3 million people with MS around the world with 200 new cases diagnosed every week. That is almost as many people as the entire city of Houston.

With such high numbers of people diagnosed, what causes multiple sclerosis? No one is sure, but most point to a genetic factor or some type of environmental contributor — the cause of MS is still debated. MS symptoms include sensational disruptions, problems controlling movement, lethargy and visual complications. As stated previously though, these symptoms can be minimal and inconsistent, making it harder for patients to recognize their symptoms and for doctors to diagnose.

One of the best exams for doctors needing to diagnose MS is using MRI. MRIs use a combination of magnetic fields and radio waves in order to create images of the internal organs. MRIs are particularly adept at imaging the tissues and nervous structures of the body as well as identifying musculoskeletal disorders. MRIs can detect the subtle changes in the brain and spinal cord that are indicative of MS. MRIs are extremely safe, noninvasive and require no radiation, making them the preferred method for MS diagnosis.

At Doctors Imaging, we also use
NeuroQuant to better examine patients suspected of having memory loss, Multiple Sclerosis, brain trauma other neurologic conditions. NeuroQuant is FDA-cleared software that is a part of the routine MRI protocol that is available upon request from referring physicians that need volumetric analysis when making clinical assessments for any disease that may cause alterations in brain anatomy.

If you have other questions about MRIs, NeuroQuant, or other services at Doctors Imaging, feel free to contact our offices at 504-883-8111 or Request an Appointment.