Date Published:2006 Aug 1
The ability to resolve complex fiber populations in muscular tissues is important for relating tissue structure with mechanical function. To address this issue in the case of tongue, we employed diffusion spectrum imaging (DSI), an MRI method for determining three-dimensional myoarchitecture where myofiber populations are variably aligned. By specifically varying gradient field strength, molecular displacement in a tissue can be determined by Fourier-transforming the echo intensity against gradient strength at fixed gradient pulse spacing. The displacement profiles are visualized by graphing three-dimensional isocontour icons for each voxel, with the isocontour shape and size representing the magnitude and direction of the constituting fiber populations. To validate this method, we simulated a DSI experiment within the constraints of arbitrary crossing fibers, and determined that DSI accurately depicts the angular relationships between these fibers. Considering the fiber relationships in the whole bovine tongue, we compared the images obtained by DSI with those obtained by diffusion tensor imaging in an anterior slice of the lingual core, a region known to possess extensive fiber crossing. In contrast to diffusion tensor imaging, which depicts the anterior core solely as a region with low anisotropy due to the presence of mixed-orientation fiber populations, DSI shows two distinct fiber populations, with an explicit orthogonal relationship to each other. In imaging the whole lingual tissue, we discerned arrays of crossing and noncrossing fibers involving the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles, which merged at regions of interface. We conclude that DSI has the capacity to determine three-dimensional fiber orientation in structurally complex muscular tissues.