Diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging of glial brain tumors

Eur J Radiol. 2010 Jun;74(3):428-36. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2009.03.030. Epub 2009 Apr 25.


Aim: To evaluate the author's experience with the use of diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI) on patients with glial tumors.

Methods: A retrospective evaluation of a group of 24 patients with glial tumors was performed. There were eight patients with Grade II, eight patients with Grade III and eight patients with Grade IV tumors with a histologically proven diagnosis. All the patients underwent routine imaging including T2 weighted images, multidirectional diffusion weighted imaging (measured in 60 non-collinear directions) and T1 weighted non-enhanced and contrast enhanced images. The imaging sequence and evaluation software were produced by Massachusetts General Hospital Corporation (Boston, MA, USA). Fractional anisotropy (FA) maps were calculated in all patients. The white matter FA changes were assessed within the tumorous tissue, on the tumorous borderline and in the normally appearing white matter adjacent to the tumor. A three-dimensional model of the white matter tract was created to demonstrate the space relationship of the tumor and the capsula interna or corpus callosum in each case using the following fiber tracing parameters: FA step 0.25 and a tensor declination angle of 45 gr. An additional assessment of the tumorous tissue enhancement was performed.

Results: A uniform homogenous structure with sharp demargination of the Grade II tumors and the wide rim of the intermedial FA in all Grade III tumors respectively, were found during the evaluation of the FA maps. In Grade IV tumors a variable demargination was noted on the FA maps. The sensitivity and specificity for the discrimination of low- and high-grade glial tumors using FA maps was revealed to be 81% and 87% respectively. If the evaluation of the contrast enhancement was combined with the evaluation of the FA maps, both sensitivity and specificity were 100%.

Conclusion: Although the evaluation of the fractional anisotropy maps is not sufficient for glioma grading, the combination of the contrast enhancement pattern and fractional anisotropy maps evaluation improves the possibility of distinguishing low- and high-grade glial tumors. Three-dimensional models of the white matter fibers in the corpus callosum and the internal capsule may be used in the presurgical planning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity