Optic Radiation Fiber Tracking Using Anteriorly Angulated Diffusion Tensor Imaging: A Tested Algorithm for Quick Application

Neurosurgery 68:1239–1251, 2011 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31820b52e1

Fiber tracking (FT) of the optic pathways (OPs) is difficult because there is no standard for the parameters of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), placement of seed volumes, or interpreting the results.

OBJECTIVE: To determine optimal conditions and parameters for DTI and FT of the optic radiation under intraoperative conditions, we performed a multivariate prospective study.

METHODS: A healthy man underwent magnetic resonance imaging and DTI scans using various scan parameters. The slice thicknesses were 2.7 mm, 5 mm, and 7 mm, and the gantry of the slices was 0 degrees and 44 degrees. The OPs were tracked using different settings for focal anisotropy and minimal length of the visualized fibers. The time needed for DTI, image processing, and uploading as well as the difficulty of depicting the OPs, the time needed for FT, quality, and volume of the tracked fiber object were registered and analyzed.

RESULTS: The DTI took between 2 minutes 14 seconds for the axial scan with 7-mm slice thickness and 6 minutes 14 seconds for the 44-degree angulated scan with 2.7-mm slice thickness. Splitting the data into a 3-dimensional mosaic data set took between 1 minute 42 seconds (44 degrees, 7 mm; 0 degrees, 7 mm) and 4 minutes 21 seconds (44 degrees, 2.7 mm). The best results were achieved using 44-degree, 2.7-mm DTI. The optimal setting for focal anisotropy was 0.1 and 11 mm for minimal length. Using these parameters, tracking of the OPs was possible in 1 minute 22 seconds and with high quality and correlating with anatomic studies.

CONCLUSION: The use of anteriorly angulated DTI improves the FT work flow and the results of tractography of the OP. The quality of the resulting objects can be judged by anatomic landmarks.