The statistical reliability of diffusion property measurements was evaluated in ten healthy subjects using deterministic fiber tracking to localize tracts affected in motor neuron disease: corticospinal tract (CST), uncinate fasciculus (UNC), and the corpus callosum in its entirety (CC), and its genu (GE), motor (CCM), and splenium (SP) fibers separately. Measurements of fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (λ1), transverse diffusivity (λ⊥), and volume of voxels containing fibers (VV) were obtained within each tract. To assess intra-rater and inter-rater reliability, two raters carried out fiber tracking five times on each scan. Scan-rescan and longitudinal reliability were assessed in a subset of four subjects who had six scans, with two sets of three scans separated by one year. The statistical reliability of repeated measurements was evaluated using intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) and coefficients of variation (CV). Spatial agreement of tract shape was assessed using the kappa (κ) statistic.
Repeated same-scan fiber tracking evaluations showed good geometric alignment (intra-rater κ > 0.90, inter-rater κ > 0.76) and reliable diffusion property measurements (intra-rater ICC > 0.92, inter-rater ICC > 0.77). FA, MD, and λ⊥ were highly reliable with repeated scans on different days, up to a year apart (ICC > 0.8). VV also exhibited good reliability, but with higher CVs. We were unable to demonstrate reproducibility of λ1. Longitudinal reliability after one year was improved by averaging measurements from multiple scans at each timepoint. Fiber tracking provides a reliable tool for the longitudinal evaluation of white matter diffusion properties.