Magnetic Resonance Neurography Visualizes Abnormalities in Sciatic and Tibial Nerves in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes and Neuropathy

This study evaluates whether diffusion tensor imaging magnetic resonance neurography (DTI-MRN), T2 relaxation time, and proton spin density can detect and grade neuropathic abnormalities in patients with type 1 diabetes. Patients with type 1 diabetes (n = 49) were included—11 with severe polyneuropathy (sDPN), 13 with mild polyneuropathy (mDPN), and 25 without polyneuropathy (nDPN)—along with 30 healthy control subjects (HCs). Clinical examinations, nerve conduction studies, and vibratory perception thresholds determined the presence and severity of DPN. DTI-MRN covered proximal (sciatic nerve) and distal (tibial nerve) nerve segments of the lower extremity. Fractional anisotropy (FA) and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) were calculated, as were T2 relaxation time and proton spin density obtained from DTI-MRN. All magnetic resonance findings were related to the presence and severity of neuropathy. FA of the sciatic and tibial nerves was lowest in the sDPN group. Corresponding with this, proximal and distal ADCs were highest in patients with sDPN compared with patients with mDPN and nDPN, as well as the HCs. DTI-MRN correlated closely with the severity of neuropathy, demonstrating strong associations with sciatic and tibial nerve findings. Quantitative group differences in proton spin density were also significant, but less pronounced than those for DTI-MRN. In conclusion, DTI-MRN enables detection in peripheral nerves of abnormalities related to DPN, more so than proton spin density or T2 relaxation time. These abnormalities are likely to reflect pathology in sciatic and tibial nerve fibers.

Diabetes Journal current issue

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