Diffusion-Tensor Imaging of the Physes: A Possible Biomarker for Skeletal Growth—Experience with 151 Children

To determine the changes of diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) and tractography in the distal femur and proximal tibia related to age, sex, and height.

Following institutional review board approval, with waiver of consent and with HIPAA compliance, the authors retrospectively analyzed DTI images of the knee in 151 children, 73 girls (median age, 14.1 years; range, 6.5–17.8 years) and 78 boys (median age, 16.6 years; range, 6.9–17.9 years), studied from January 2013 to October 2014. At sagittal echo-planar DTI (20 directions, b values of 0 and 600 sec/mm2), regions of interest were placed in the tibial and femoral physes. Using a fractional anisotropy threshold of 0.15 and an angle threshold of 40°, the authors performed tractography and measured apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and tract length and volume. Changes related to age, sex, and height were evaluated by using fitted nonlinear polynomial functions on bootstrapped samples.

Femoral tract volume and length increased and then decreased with age (P < .001); the peaks of femoral tract volume are consistent with the growth spurt, occurring earlier in girls (10.8 years) than in boys (13.0 years) (P < .001). Girls had smaller tract volumes in comparison to boys (P = .013). ADC peaks 2 years earlier than tract volume (girls at 9.3 years, boys at 11.0 years). Girls with greater than 50th percentile of height had longer tracts and greater tract volumes compared with girls with less than 50th percentile (P < .020). DTI parameters of boys do not correlate with percentile of height (P > .300).

DTI of the physis and metaphysis shows greater tract length and volumes in subjects who are at ages when the growth is fastest. ADC and tract length and volume have an earlier and smaller peak in girls than in boys. Femoral tract length and volume are larger in taller girls.

http://bit.ly/2gBkjq4 | July 2017

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