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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 1/2017

Diffusion tensor imaging and tractography of the sciatic and femoral nerves in healthy volunteers at 3T

Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research > Ausgabe 1/2017
Yasushi Wako, Junichi Nakamura, Yawara Eguchi, Shigeo Hagiwara, Michiaki Miura, Yuya Kawarai, Masahiko Sugano, Kento Nawata, Kensuke Yoshino, Yasunari Toguchi, Yoshitada Masuda, Koji Matsumoto, Takane Suzuki, Sumihisa Orita, Seiji Ohtori



The aim was to clarify the normal fractional anisotropy (FA) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values of the sciatic and femoral nerves at the level of the hip joint and to visualize the neural tracts with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).


Twenty-four healthy volunteers (12 men and 12 women, age 20–29 years) underwent DTI for visualization with tractography and quantification of FA and ADC values on a 3 Tesla MRI (b value = 800 s/mm2, motion probing gradient, 11 directions, time to repeat/echo time = 9000/72.6 ms, axial slice orientation, slice thickness = 3.0 mm with no inter-slice gap, field of view = 320 × 320 mm, 96 × 192 matrix, 75 slices, number of acquisitions = 4). Regions of interest in the sciatic nerve were defined at the femoral head, the S1 root, and the midpoint levels. The femoral nerve was evaluated at 3–4 cm proximal to the femoral head level.


The tractography of the sciatic and femoral nerves were visualized in all participants. The mean FA values of the sciatic nerve were increased distally from the S1 root level, through the midpoint, and to the femoral head level (0.314, 0.446, 0.567, p = 0.001, respectively). The mean FA values of the femoral nerve were 0.565. The mean ADC values of the sciatic nerves were significantly lower in the S1 root level than in the midpoint and the femoral head level (1.481, 1.602, 1.591 × 10−3 × 10−3 mm2/s, p = 0.001, respectively). The ADC values of the femoral nerve were 1.439 × 10−3 mm2/s. FA and ADC values showed moderate to substantial inter- and intra-observer reliability without significant differences in gender or laterality.


Visualization and quantification of the sciatic and femoral nerves simultaneously around the hip joint were achieved in healthy young volunteers with DTI. Clinical application of DTI is expected to contribute to hip pain research.
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