In vivo visualization of the facial nerve in patients with acoustic neuroma using diffusion tensor imaging–based fiber tracking


J Neurosurg 125:787–794, 2016

Preoperative determination of the facial nerve (FN) course is essential to preserving its function. Neither regular preoperative imaging examination nor intraoperative electrophysiological monitoring is able to determine the exact position of the FN. The diffusion tensor imaging–based fiber tracking (DTI-FT) technique has been widely used for the preoperative noninvasive visualization of the neural fasciculus in the white matter of brain. However, further studies are required to establish its role in the preoperative visualization of the FN in acoustic neuroma surgery. The object of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of using DTI-FT to visualize the FN.

Methods: Data from 15 patients with acoustic neuromas were collected using 3-T MRI. The visualized FN course and its position relative to the tumors were determined using DTI-FT with 3D Slicer software. The preoperative visualization results of FN tracking were verified using microscopic observation and electrophysiological monitoring during microsurgery.

Results: Preoperative visualization of the FN using DTI-FT was observed in 93.3% of the patients. However, in 92.9% of the patients, the FN visualization results were consistent with the actual surgery.

Conclusions: DTI-FT, in combination with intraoperative FN electrophysiological monitoring, demonstrated improved FN preservation in patients with acoustic neuroma. FN visualization mainly included the facial-vestibular nerve complex of the FN and vestibular nerve.

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