A novel high-precision fiber tractography for nuclear localization in transcranial magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound surgery

J Neurosurg 140:1471–1481, 2024

In transcranial MR-guided focused ultrasound (TcMRgFUS), fiber tractography using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has been proposed as a direct method to identify the ventral intermediate nucleus (Vim), the ventral caudal nucleus (Vc), and the pyramidal tract (PT). However, the limitations of the DTI algorithm affect the accuracy of visualizing anatomical structures due to its low-quality fiber tractography, whereas the application of the generalized q-sampling imaging (GQI) algorithm enables the visualization of high-quality fiber tracts, offering detailed insights into the spatial distribution of motor cortex fibers. This retrospective study aimed to investigate the usefulness of high-precision fiber tractography using the GQI algorithm as a planning image in TcMRgFUS to achieve favorable clinical outcomes.

METHODS This study included 20 patients who underwent TcMRgFUS. The Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor (CRST) scores and MR images were evaluated pretreatment and at 24 hours and 3–6 months after treatment. Cases were classified based on the presence and adversity of adverse events (AEs): no AEs, mild AEs without additional treatment, and severe AEs requiring prolonged hospitalization. Fiber tractography of the Vim, Vc, and PT was visualized using the DTI and GQI algorithm. The overlapping volume between Vim fibers and the lesion was measured, and correlation analysis was performed. The relationship between AEs and the overlapping volume of the Vc and PT fibers within the lesions was examined. The cutoff value to achieve a favorable clinical outcome and avoid AEs was determined using receiver operating characteristic curve analysis.

RESULTS All patients showed improvement in tremors 24 hours after treatment, with 3 patients experiencing mild AEs and 1 patient experiencing severe AEs. At the 3- to 6-month follow-up, 5 patients experienced recurrence, and 2 patients had persistent mild AEs. Although fiber visualization in the motor cortex using the DTI algorithm was insufficient, the GQI algorithm enabled the visualization of significantly higher-quality fibers. A strong correlation was observed between the overlapping volume that intersects the lesion and Vim fibers and the degree of tremor improvement (r = 0.72). Higher overlapping volumes of Vc and PT within the lesion were associated with an increased likelihood of AEs (p < 0.05); the cutoff volume of Vim fibers within the lesion for a favorable clinical outcome was 401 mm 3 , while the volume of Vc and PT within the lesion to avoid AEs was 99 mm 3 .

CONCLUSIONS This pilot study suggests that incorporating the high-precision GQI algorithm for fiber tractography as a planning imaging technique for TcMRgFUS has the potential to enhance targeting precision and achieve favorable clinical outcomes.