Objective: To explore the role of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in neuronavigation surgery of brain tumors involving pyramidal tracts.
Methods: Forty-nine patients with brain tumors involving pyramidal tracts were randomly divided into trial group (DTI navigation) and control group (traditional navigation). The patients in trial group underwent DTI and T1 weighted 3D navigational magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies. The main white matter tracts were constructed by the DTI datasets, and merged to the anatomical structure, which was delineated by the T1-weighted three-dimensional fast spoiled gradient recalled sequence (3D/FSPGR). The relationship between the tumors and adjacent pyramidal tracts were segmented and reconstructed for three-dimensional visualization.
Results: In 25 patients of trial group and 24 patients of control group, the statistic analysis confirmed well balance of main variations. The tumors were completely resected in 12 patients (50.0%) of control group and in 20 patients (80.0%) of trial group (P < 0.05). Postoperative aggravated contralateral extremities weakness or hemiplegia due to pyramidal tract injury occurring in 75.0% cases of control group whereas only 20.0% patients in trial group (P < 0.01). The mean Karnofsky scale were 69.58 +/- 23.49 and 84.80 +/- 23.49 respectively in control and trial groups (P < 0.05). The excellent outcome ratio (Karnofsky scale = 90 - 100) was 37.5% in control group and 72.0% in trial group respectively (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: DTI allows individual estimation of large fiber tracts of brain. Furthermore, to integrate spatial three-dimensional information concerning the white matter tracts into traditional neuronavigation images during surgery, was valuable in presenting topographical character of involving (shift or erosive) pyramidal tracts and relationship with the margins of neighboring tumors. The mapping of large fiber tracts was a safe, efficient, reliable technique. DTI should be routinely used in neuronavigation surgery of brain tumor involving pyramidal tracts to plan the optimal trajectory and ensure total resection of the lesions during operation, as well as to decrease potential disability after operation and to shorten the length of hospitalization.