Purpose: To evaluate the use of diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tractography for neurosurgical guidance of transcranial MRI-guided focused ultrasound (tcMRgFUS) thalamotomy for essential tremor (ET).
Materials and methods: Eight patients with medication-refractory ET were treated with tcMRgFUS targeting the ventral intermediate nucleus (Vim) of the thalamus contralateral to their dominant hand. Diffusion and structural MRI data and clinical evaluations were acquired pre-treatment and post-treatment. To identify the optimal target location, tractography was performed on pre-treatment diffusion MRI data between the treated thalamus and the hand-knob region of the ipsilateral motor cortex, the entire ipsilateral motor cortex and the contralateral dentate nucleus. The tractography-identified locations were compared to the lesion location delineated on 1 year post-treatment T2-weighted MR image. Their overlap was correlated with the clinical outcomes measured by the percentage change of the Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor scores acquired pre-treatment, as well as 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year post-treatment.
Results: The probabilistic tractography was consistent from subject-to-subject and followed the expected anatomy of the thalamocortical radiation and the dentatothalamic tract. Higher overlap between the tractography-identified location and the tcMRgFUS treatment-induced lesion highly correlated with better treatment outcome (r = -0.929, -0.75, -0.643, p = 0.00675, 0.0663, 0.139 for the tractography between the treated thalamus and the hand-knob region of the ipsilateral motor cortex, the entire ipsilateral motor cortex and the contralateral dentate nucleus, respectively, at 1 year post-treatment). The correlation for the tractography between the treated thalamus and the hand-knob region of the ipsilateral motor cortex is the highest for all time points (r = -0.719, -0.976, -0.707, -0.929, p = 0.0519, 0.000397, 0.0595, 0.00675 at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year post-treatment, respectively).
Conclusion: Our data support the use of diffusion tractography as a complementary approach to current targeting methods for tcMRgFUS thalamotomy.
Keywords: Diffusion tractography; Essential tremor; Neurosurgical targeting; Thalamotomy; Transcranial MRI-guided focused ultrasound; Ventral intermediate nucleus.