Korean J Pain.  2020 Jul;33(3):275-283. 10.3344/kjp.2020.33.3.275.

Diffusion tensor imaging of the C1-C3 dorsal root ganglia and greater occipital nerve for cervicogenic headache

  • 1Department of Radiology, West China School of Public Health and West China Fourth Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
  • 2North Sichuan Medical College, Nanchong, China
  • 3Department of Pain, Affiliated Hospital of North Sichuan Medical College, Nanchong, China


Previous studies showed neurography and tractography of the greater occipital nerve (GON). The purpose of this study was determining diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) parameters of bilateral GONs and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) in unilateral cervicogenic headache as well as the grading value of DTI for severe headache. The correlation between DTI parameters and clinical characteristics was evaluated.
The fractional anisotropy (FA) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values in bilateral GONs and cervical DRG (C2 and C3) were measured. Grading values for headache severity was calculated using a receiver operating characteristics curve. The correlation was analyzed with Pearson’s coefficient.
The FA values of the symptomatic side of GON and cervical DRG (C2 and C3) were significantly lower than that of the asymptomatic side (all the P < 0.001), while the ADC values were significantly higher (P = 0.003, P < 0.001, and P = 0.003, respectively). The FA value of 0.205 in C2 DRG was considered the grading parameter for headache severity with sensitivity of 0.743 and specificity of 0.999 (P < 0.001). A negative correlation and a positive correlation between the FA and ADC value of the GON and headache index (HI; r = –0.420, P = 0.037 and r = 0.531, P = 0.006, respectively) was found.
DTI parameters in the symptomatic side of the C2 and C3 DRG and GON were significantly changed. The FA value of the C2 DRG can grade headache severity. DTI parameters of the GON significantly correlated with HI.


Cervical Vertebrae; Chronic Pain; Diffusion Tensor Imaging; Ganglia, Spinal; Headache; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; ROC Curve; Sensitivity and Specificity
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