Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the deterministic and probabilistic tracking methods of diffusion tensor white matter fiber tractography in patients with brain tumors.
Materials and methods: We identified 29 patients with left brain tumors <2 cm from the arcuate fasciculus who underwent pre-operative language fMRI and DTI. The arcuate fasciculus was reconstructed using a deterministic Fiber Assignment by Continuous Tracking (FACT) algorithm and a probabilistic method based on an extended Monte Carlo Random Walk algorithm. Tracking was controlled using two ROIs corresponding to Broca's and Wernicke's areas. Tracts in tumoraffected hemispheres were examined for extension between Broca's and Wernicke's areas, anterior-posterior length and volume, and compared with the normal contralateral tracts.
Results: Probabilistic tracts displayed more complete anterior extension to Broca's area than did FACT tracts on the tumor-affected and normal sides (p < 0.0001). The median length ratio for tumor: normal sides was greater for probabilistic tracts than FACT tracts (p < 0.0001). The median tract volume ratio for tumor: normal sides was also greater for probabilistic tracts than FACT tracts (p = 0.01).
Conclusion: Probabilistic tractography reconstructs the arcuate fasciculus more completely and performs better through areas of tumor and/or edema. The FACT algorithm tends to underestimate the anterior-most fibers of the arcuate fasciculus, which are crossed by primary motor fibers.
Keywords: Arcuate Fasciculus; Brain Tumors; DTI; Diffusion Tensor Imaging; FACT; Probabilistic; Tractography.