Background: Diffusion imaging tractography is increasingly used to trace critical fiber tracts in brain tumor patients to reduce the risk of post-operative neurological deficit. However, the effects of peritumoral edema pose a challenge to conventional tractography using the standard diffusion tensor model. The aim of this study was to present a novel technique using a two-tensor unscented Kalman filter (UKF) algorithm to track the arcuate fasciculus (AF) in brain tumor patients with peritumoral edema.
Methods: Ten right-handed patients with left-sided brain tumors in the vicinity of language-related cortex and evidence of significant peritumoral edema were retrospectively selected for the study. All patients underwent 3-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) including a diffusion-weighted dataset with 31 directions. Fiber tractography was performed using both single-tensor streamline and two-tensor UKF tractography. A two-regions-of-interest approach was applied to perform the delineation of the AF. Results from the two different tractography algorithms were compared visually and quantitatively.
Results: Using single-tensor streamline tractography, the AF appeared disrupted in four patients and contained few fibers in the remaining six patients. Two-tensor UKF tractography delineated an AF that traversed edematous brain areas in all patients. The volume of the AF was significantly larger on two-tensor UKF than on single-tensor streamline tractography (p < 0.01).
Conclusions: Two-tensor UKF tractography provides the ability to trace a larger volume AF than single-tensor streamline tractography in the setting of peritumoral edema in brain tumor patients.
Keywords: Arcuate fasciculus; Diffusion tensor imaging; Neurosurgical planning; Peritumoral edema; Tractography.