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. 2016 Jul;125(1):33-45.
doi: 10.3171/2015.6.JNS142203. Epub 2015 Dec 11.

Identifying Preoperative Language Tracts and Predicting Postoperative Functional Recovery Using HARDI Q-Ball Fiber Tractography in Patients With Gliomas


Identifying Preoperative Language Tracts and Predicting Postoperative Functional Recovery Using HARDI Q-Ball Fiber Tractography in Patients With Gliomas

Eduardo Caverzasi et al. J Neurosurg. .


OBJECT Diffusion MRI has uniquely enabled in vivo delineation of white matter tracts, which has been applied to the segmentation of eloquent pathways for intraoperative mapping. The last decade has also seen the development from earlier diffusion tensor models to higher-order models, which take advantage of high angular resolution diffusion-weighted imaging (HARDI) techniques. However, these advanced methods have not been widely implemented for routine preoperative and intraoperative mapping. The authors report on the application of residual bootstrap q-ball fiber tracking for routine mapping of potentially functional language pathways, the development of a system for rating tract injury to evaluate the impact on clinically assessed language function, and initial results predicting long-term language deficits following glioma resection. METHODS The authors have developed methods for the segmentation of 8 putative language pathways including dorsal phonological pathways and ventral semantic streams using residual bootstrap q-ball fiber tracking. Furthermore, they have implemented clinically feasible preoperative acquisition and processing of HARDI data to delineate these pathways for neurosurgical application. They have also developed a rating scale based on the altered fiber tract density to estimate the degree of pathway injury, applying these ratings to a subset of 35 patients with pre- and postoperative fiber tracking. The relationships between specific pathways and clinical language deficits were assessed to determine which pathways are predictive of long-term language deficits following surgery. RESULTS This tracking methodology has been routinely implemented for preoperative mapping in patients with brain gliomas who have undergone awake brain tumor resection at the University of California, San Francisco (more than 300 patients to date). In this particular study the authors investigated the white matter structure status and language correlation in a subcohort of 35 subjects both pre- and postsurgery. The rating scales developed for fiber pathway damage were found to be highly reproducible and provided significant correlations with language performance. Preservation of the left arcuate fasciculus (AF) and the temporoparietal component of the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF-tp) was consistent in all patients without language deficits (p < 0.001) at the long-term follow-up. Furthermore, in patients with short-term language deficits, the AF and/or SLF-tp were affected, and damage to these 2 pathways was predictive of a long-term language deficit (p = 0.005). CONCLUSIONS The authors demonstrated the successful application of q-ball tracking in presurgical planning for language pathways in brain tumor patients and in assessing white matter tract integrity postoperatively to predict long-term language dysfunction. These initial results predicting long-term language deficits following tumor resection indicate that postoperative injury to dorsal language pathways may be prognostic for long-term clinical language deficits. Study results suggest the importance of dorsal stream tract preservation to reduce language deficits in patients undergoing glioma resection, as well as the potential prognostic value of assessing postoperative injury to dorsal language pathways to predict long-term clinical language deficits.

Keywords: AF = arcuate fasciculus; AFTD = altered fiber tractography density; CD = clinical deficit; CRT set = clinically relevant tract set; DTI = diffusion tensor imaging; FA = fractional anisotropy; GTR = gross-total resection; HARDI = high angular resolution diffusion-weighted imaging; HGG = high-grade glioma; IFOF = inferior frontooccipital fasciculus; ILF = inferior longitudinal fasciculus; IR-SPGR = inversion-recovery spoiled gradient echo; ISM = intraoperative stimulation mapping; LGG = low-grade glioma; MNI = Montreal Neurological Institute; MST set = minimally sufficient tract set; MdLF = middle longitudinal fasciculus; ODF = orientation distribution function; ROI = region of interest; SLF = superior longitudinal fasciculus; SLF-II&III = SLF components II and III; SLF-tp = temporoparietal component of SLF; UF = uncinate fasciculus; brain tumor; language; oncology; presurgical planning; q-ball; tractography; white matter.

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