Language hemispheric dominance analyzed with magnetic resonance DTI: correlation with the Wada test

J Neurosurg 134:1703–1710, 2021

Language lateralization is a major concern in some patients with pharmacoresistant epilepsy who will face surgery; in these patients, hemispheric dominance testing is essential to avoid further complications. The Wada test is considered the gold standard examination for language localization, but is invasive and requires many human and material resources. Functional MRI and tractography with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) have demonstrated that they could be useful for locating language in epilepsy surgery, but there is no evidence of the correlation between the Wada test and DTI MRI in language dominance.

METHODS The authors performed a retrospective review of patients who underwent a Wada test before epilepsy surgery at their institution from 2012 to 2017. The authors retrospectively analyzed fractional anisotropy (FA), number and length of fibers, and volume of the arcuate fasciculus and uncinate fasciculus, comparing dominant and nondominant hemispheres.

RESULTS Ten patients with temporal lobe epilepsy were reviewed. Statistical analysis showed that the mean FA of the arcuate fasciculus in the dominant hemisphere was higher than in the nondominant hemisphere (0.369 vs 0.329, p = 0.049). Also, the number of fibers in the arcuate fasciculus was greater in the dominant hemisphere (881.5 vs 305.4, p = 0.003). However, no differences were found in the FA of the uncinate fasciculus or number of fibers between hemispheres. The length of fibers of the uncinate fasciculus was longer in the dominant side (74.4 vs 50.1 mm, p = 0.05). Volume in both bundles was more prominent in the dominant hemisphere (12.12 vs 6.48 cm3, p = 0.004, in the arcuate fasciculus, and 8.41 vs 4.16 cm3, p = 0.018, in the uncinate fasciculus). Finally, these parameters were compared in patients in whom the seizure focus was situated in the dominant hemisphere: FA (0.37 vs 0.30, p = 0.05), number of fibers (114.4 vs 315.6, p = 0.014), and volume (12.58 vs 5.88 cm3, p = 0.035) in the arcuate fasciculus were found to be statistically significantly higher in the dominant hemispheres. Linear discriminant analysis of FA, number of fibers, and volume of the arcuate fasciculus showed a correct discrimination in 80% of patients (p = 0.024).

CONCLUSIONS The analysis of the arcuate fasciculus and other tract bundles by DTI could be a useful tool for language location testing in the preoperative study of patients with refractory epilepsy.

Utility of a Quantitative Approach Using Diffusion Tensor Imaging for Prognostication Regarding Motor and Functional Outcomes in Patients With Surgically Resected Deep Intracranial Cavernous Malformations

Neurosurgery 86:665–675, 2020

Resection of deep intracranial cavernous malformations (CMs) is associated with a higher risk of neurological deterioration and uncertainty regarding clinical outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: To examine diffusion tractography imaging (DTI) data evaluating the corticospinal tract (CST) in relation to motor and functional outcomes in patients with surgically resected deep CMs.

METHODS: Perilesional CST was characterized as disrupted, displaced, or normal. Mean fractional anisotropy (FA) values were obtained for whole ipsilateral CST and in 3 regions: subcortical (proximal), perilesional, and distally. Mean FA values in anatomically equivalent regions in the contralateral CST were obtained. Clinical and radiological data were collected independently.Multivariable regression analysis was used for statistical analysis.

RESULTS: A total of 18 patients [brainstem (15) and thalamus/basal ganglia (3); median follow-up: 270 d] were identified over 2 yr. The CST was identified preoperatively as disrupted (6), displaced (8), and normal (4). Five of 6 patientswith disruption hadweakness. Higher preoperative mean FA values for distal ipsilateral CST segmentwere associated with better preoperative lower (P < .001), upper limb (P = .004), postoperative lower (P = .005), and upper limb (P < .001) motor examination. Preoperative mean FA values for distal ipsilateral CST segment (P = .001) and contralateral perilesional CST segment (P < .001) were negatively associated with postoperative modified Rankin scale scores.

CONCLUSION: Lower preoperative mean FA values for overall and defined CST segments corresponded to worse patient pre- and postoperative motor examination and/or functional status. FA value for the distal ipsilateral CST segment has prognostic potential with respect to clinical outcomes.

Correlation of magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging parameters with American Spinal Injury Association score for prognostication and long-term outcomes

Neurosurg Focus 46 (3):E2, 2019

Conventional MRI is routinely used to demonstrate the anatomical site of spinal cord injury (SCI). However, quantitative and qualitative imaging parameters have limited use in predicting neurological outcomes. Currently, there are no reliable neuroimaging biomarkers to predict short- and long-term outcome after SCI.

METHODS A prospective cohort of 23 patients with SCI (19 with cervical SCI [CSCI] and 4 with thoracic SCI [TSCI]) treated between 2007 and 2014 was included in the study. The American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) score was determined at the time of arrival and at 1-year follow-up. Only 15 patients (12 with CSCI and 3 with TSCI) had 1-year follow-up. Whole-cord fractional anisotropy (FA) was determined at C1–2, following which C1–2 was divided into upper, middle, and lower segments and the corresponding FA value at each of these segments was calculated. Correlation analysis was performed between FA and ASIA score at time of arrival and 1-year follow-up.

RESULTS Correlation analysis showed a positive but nonsignificant correlation (p = 0.095) between FA and ASIA score for all patients (CSCI and TCSI) at the time of arrival. Additional regression analysis consisting of only patients with CSCI showed a significant correlation (p = 0.008) between FA and ASIA score at time of arrival as well as at 1-year follow-up (p = 0.025). Furthermore, in case of patients with CSCI, a significant correlation between FA value at each of the segments (upper, middle, and lower) of C1–2 and ASIA score at time of arrival was found (p = 0.017, p = 0.015, and p = 0.002, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS In patients with CSCI, the measurement of diffusion anisotropy of the high cervical cord (C1–2) correlates significantly with injury severity and long-term follow-up. However, this correlation is not seen in patients with TSCI. Therefore, FA can be used as an imaging biomarker for evaluating neural injury and monitoring recovery in patients with CSCI.


The role of diffusion tensor imaging in the diagnosis, prognosis, and assessment of recovery and treatment of spinal cord injury: a systematic review

Neurosurg Focus 46 (3):E7, 2019

Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is an MRI tool that provides an objective, noninvasive, in vivo assessment of spinal cord injury (SCI). DTI is significantly better at visualizing microstructures than standard MRI sequences. In this imaging modality, the direction and amplitude of the diffusion of water molecules inside tissues is measured, and this diffusion can be measured using a variety of parameters. As a result, the potential clinical application of DTI has been studied in several spinal cord pathologies, including SCI. The aim of this study was to describe the current state of the potential clinical utility of DTI in patients with SCI and the challenges to its use as a tool in clinical practice.

METHODS A search in the PubMed database was conducted for articles relating to the use of DTI in SCI. The citations of relevant articles were also searched for additional articles.

RESULTS Among the most common DTI metrics are fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity, axial diffusivity, and radial diffusivity. Changes in these metrics reflect changes in tissue integrity. Several DTI metrics and combinations thereof have demonstrated significant correlations with clinical function both in model species and in humans. Its applications encompass the full spectrum of the clinical assessment of SCI including diagnosis, prognosis, recovery, and efficacy of treatments in both the spinal cord and potentially the brain.

CONCLUSIONS DTI and its metrics have great potential to become a powerful clinical tool in SCI. However, the current limitations of DTI preclude its use beyond research and into clinical practice. Further studies are needed to significantly improve and resolve these limitations as well as to determine reliable time-specific changes in multiple DTI metrics for this tool to be used accurately and reliably in the clinical setting.


The timing of stereotactic radiosurgery for medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia

Acta Neurochirurgica (2018) 160:977–986

Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a novel MRI technique that enables noninvasive evaluation of microstructural alterations in white matter of brain. Initially, DTI was used in intra- or inter-hemispheric association bundles. Recent technical advances are overcoming the challenges of imaging small white matter bundles, such as the cranial nerves. In this study, we use DTI to shed more light on the microstructure changes in long-standing trigeminal neuralgia. We also utilize DTI to study the effect of early stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) on the microstructures of the trigeminal nerve and to predict the effectiveness of early SRS in the treatment of medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia (TN).

Methods To analyze the presentation of trigeminal nerve, the DTI was reconstructed in 21 cases pre- and post-SRS. DTI parameters recorded include fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD), axial diffusivity (AD), linear anisotropy coefficient (Cl), planar anisotropy coefficient (Cp), and spherical anisotropy coefficient (Cs). Comparisons between ipsilateral (symptomatic) and contralateral (asymptomatic) trigeminal nerves and symptomdurations of < 5 and ≧ 5 years were performed.

Results The study cohort comprised 21 patients with TN with a median age of 66 years. Initial adequate facial pain relief (Barrow Neurological Institute facial pain scores I–IIIb) was achieved in 16 (76%) patients. For the pre-SRS DTI findings, ipsilateral trigeminal nerve was associated with higher baseline root entry zone (REZ) Cs compared to contralateral nerve (0.774 vs. 0.743, p = 0.04). Ipsilateral trigeminal nerve with symptoms of < 5 years was associated with higher baseline FA compared to trigeminal nerve with symptoms of ≧ 5 years (0.314 vs. 0.244, p = 0.02). For the post-SRS DTI findings, ipsilateral trigeminal nerves with symptoms of <5 years demonstrated decrease in Cl, while those with symptoms ≧ 5 years demonstrated increase in Cl after SRS at the ipsilateral REZ (− 0.025 vs. 0.018, p = 0.04). At the cisternal segment of ipsilateral trigeminal nerve, symptoms of < 5 years were associated with decreased FA and increased λ2, while symptoms of ≧ 5 years were associated with increased FA and decreased λ2 after SRS (FA − 0.068 vs. 0.031, p = 0.04, λ2 0.0003 vs. − 0.0002, p = 0.02).

Conclusions SRS provides high rates of initial pain relief with moderate rates of facial hypoesthesia. Ipsilateral trigeminal nerve was associated with higher baseline REZ Cs, and baseline FAwas associated with duration of symptoms. There were significant associations between duration of symptoms and changes in ipsilateral REZ Cl, cisternal segment FA, and cisternal segment λ2 after SRS. These preliminary findings serve as comparisons for future studies investigating the use of DTI in radiosurgical planning for patients with TN.

Reduced Field-of-View Diffusion Tensor Imaging of the Spinal Cord Shows Motor Dysfunction of the Lower Extremities in Patients With Cervical Compression Myelopathy

Spine 2018;43:89–96

Study Design. A cross-sectional study.

Objective. The aim of this study was to quantify spinal cord dysfunction at the tract level in patients with cervical compressive myelopathy (CCM) using reduced field-of-view (rFOV) diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).

Summary of Background Data. Although magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the standard used for radiological evaluation of CCM, information acquired by MRI does not necessarily reflect the severity of spinal cord disorder. There is a growing interest in developing imaging methods to quantify spinal cord dysfunction. To acquire high-resolution DTI, a new scheme using rFOV has been proposed.

Methods. We enrolled 10 healthy volunteers and 20 patients with CCM in this study. The participants were studied using a 3.0-T MRI system. For DTI acquisitions, diffusion-weighted spinecho rFOV single-shot echo-planar imaging was used. Regions of interest (ROI) for the lateral column (LC) and posterior column (PC) tracts were determined on the basis of a map of fractional anisotropy (FA) of the spinal cord and FA values were measured. The FA of patients with CCM was compared with that of healthy controls and correlated with Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score.

Results. In LC and PC tracts, FA values in patients with CCM were significantly lower than in healthy volunteers. Total JOA scores correlated moderately with FA in LC and PC tracts. JOA subscores for motor dysfunction of the lower extremities correlated strongly with FA in LC and PC tracts.

Conclusion. It is feasible to evaluate the cervical spinal cord at the tract level using rFOV DTI. Although FA values at the maximum compression level were not well correlated with total JOA scores, they were strongly correlated with JOA subscores for motor dysfunction of the lower extremities. Our findings suggest that FA reflects white matter dysfunction below the maximum compression level and FA can be used as an imaging biomarker of spinal cord dysfunction.

Key words: . Level of Evidence: 4

Diffusion Tensor Imaging of the Spinal Cord


Neurosurgery 74:1–8, 2014

Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) provides a measure of the directional diffusion of water molecules in tissues. The measurement of DTI indexes within the spinal cord provides a quantitative assessment of neural damage in various spinal cord pathologies.

DTI studies in animal models of spinal cord injury indicate that DTI is a reliable imaging technique with important histological and functional correlates. These studies demonstrate that DTI is a noninvasive marker of microstructural change within the spinal cord.

In human studies, spinal cord DTI shows definite changes in subjects with acute and chronic spinal cord injury, as well as cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Interestingly, changes in DTI indexes are visualized in regions of the cord, which appear normal on conventional magnetic resonance imaging and are remote from the site of cord compression.

Spinal cord DTI provides data that can help us understand underlying microstructural changes within the cord and assist in prognostication and planning of therapies. In this article, we review the use of DTI to investigate spinal cord pathology in animals and humans and describe advances in this technique that establish DTI as a promising biomarker for spinal cord disorders.

Diffusion tensor imaging in hydrocephalus—findings before and after shunt surgery

Acta Neurochir (2012) 154:1699–1706

To evaluate changes in diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)-derived parameters in patients with hydrocephalus (HC) before and several weeks after shunt surgery.

Methods Thirteen HC patients were examined with DTI before and after shunt surgery. In a combined region of interest and whole brain voxel-based analysis, different DTI parameters were compared with an age-matched control group.

Results Alteration of DTI parameters in HC patients and changes after shunt surgery are regionally different. HC patients show an increase in fractional anisotropy values based on increases in parallel diffusivity in the corticospinal tract. On the other hand, reduced fractional anisotropy values are found in the corpus callosum of HC patients. Following shunt surgery, all DTI parameters showed a trend towards normalization, yet differences to healthy control subjects remained.

Conclusion Our results show that DTI parameter changes are regionally dependent and need a careful interpretation of the underlying diffusivities to serve as a diagnostic or follow-up measure in patients with hydrocephalus.

Different Patterns of Fornix Damage in Idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus and Alzheimer Disease

Am J Neuroradiol 33:274 –79  Feb 2012

The fornix contains efferent fibers of the hippocampus and is in close contact with the corpus callosum. Part of the fornix is directly attached to the corpus callosum, and another part is suspended from the corpus callosum via the septum pellucidum. DTI can be used to evaluate the morphology and microstructural integrity of the fornix. We examined the pattern of fornix damage in patients with iNPH or AD.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We enrolled 22 patients with iNPH, 20 with AD, and 20 healthy controls. DTI data were obtained. The morphology (volume, length, and mean cross-sectional area) and FA values of the fornix were evaluated by using tract-specific analysis and compared among groups.
RESULTS: The volume, cross-sectional area, and FA value of the fornix were significantly smaller in patients with iNPH than in controls, whereas the length was significantly greater. In patients with AD, the volume, mean cross-sectional area, and FA value of the fornix were significantly smaller than those in controls, whereas the length was not altered. The fornix was significantly longer in patients with iNPH than in patients with AD, whereas the volume and cross-sectional areas were significantly smaller.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the different pathogeneses of these diseases lead to fornix damage through different mechanisms: through mechanical stretching due to lateral ventricular enlargement and corpus callosum deformation in patients with iNPH, and through degeneration secondary to hippocampal atrophy in patients with AD.

Diffusion Tensor Imaging and Colored Fractional Anisotropy Mapping of the Ventralis Intermedius Nucleus of the Thalamus

Neurosurgery 69:1124–1130, 2011 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e3182296a42

The ventralis intermedius (VIM) nucleus of the thalamus is the primary surgical target for treatment of tremor. Most centers rely on indirect targeting based on atlas-defined coordinates rather than patient-specific anatomy, making intraoperative physiological mapping critical. Detailed identification of this target based on patientspecific anatomic features can help optimize the surgical treatment of tremor.

OBJECTIVE: To study colored fractional anisotropic images and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography to identify characteristic magnetic resonance appearances of the VIM nucleus.

METHODS: Four patients undergoing stereotactic surgery for essential tremor (ET) were retrospectively studied with analysis of magnetic resonance imaging-based colored fractional anisotropy (FA) images and fiber tractography. All were scanned with a 1.5-T magnetic resonance imaging unit, and all sequences were obtained before frame placement. Because the goal of this study was to identify the DTI characteristics of physiologically defined VIM nucleus, we selected and studied patients who had undergone DTI and had efficacious tremor control with intraoperative microlesioning effect and tremor reduction with less than 2.0-V stimulation.

RESULTS: Analysis of color FA maps, which graphically illustrate fiber directionality, revealed consistent anatomic patterns. The region of the VIM nucleus can be seen as an intermediate region where there is a characteristic transition of color. Presumptive VIM nucleus interconnectivity with sensorimotor cortex and cerebellum was identified via the internal capsule and the superior cerebellar peduncle, respectively. FA maps could also be used to distinguish segments of gray matter, white matter, and gray-white matter boundaries.

CONCLUSION: Analysis of DTI and FA maps on widely available 1.5-T magnetic resonance imaging yields clear identification of various structures key to neurosurgical targeting. Prospective evaluation of integrating DTI into neurosurgical planning may be warranted.