Imaging nerve breakdown

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Assessing the integrity of the optic nerve (ON), the first section of the neural wiring between the eye and the brain, is important in ophthalmology for diagnostic purposes and follow-up. Commonly, this is done using optical coherence tomography (OCT), yet this technique only can examine the ON head. In a recent paper in the “European Journal of Radiology”, Shereif Haykal and co-authors show that using MRI (specifically, diffusion weighted imaging in combination with Fixel Based Analysis), it is possible to examine the entire ON in great detail to find glaucomatous nerve degeneration along its entire length. While MRI will not likely replace OCT, they do show the technique could still be used in a case where OCT failed. Hence, MRI may provide biomarkers of glaucomatous ON degeneration, in particular in conditions where current techniques are unable to trace such degeneration. Want to know more? Find the paper here.

The technique used by Haykal et al. (indicated by the continues lines, notably the Fiber Density (FD) measure) has a larger effect size, indicating that overall it is better able to show differences between glaucoma patients and controls than more common measure (indicated by the dotted lines).