Diffusion MRI fiber tracking provides a non-invasive method for mapping the trajectories of human brain connections, but its false connection problem has been a major challenge. This study introduces topology-informed pruning (TIP), a method that automatically identifies singular tracts and eliminates them to improve the tracking accuracy. The accuracy of the tractography with and without TIP was evaluated by a team of 6 neuroanatomists in a blinded setting to examine whether TIP could improve the accuracy. The results showed that TIP improved the tracking accuracy by 11.93% in the single-shell scheme and by 3.47% in the grid scheme. The improvement is significantly different from a random pruning (p value < 0.001). The diagnostic agreement between TIP and neuroanatomists was comparable to the agreement between neuroanatomists. The proposed TIP algorithm can be used to automatically clean-up noisy fibers in deterministic tractography, with a potential to confirm the existence of a fiber connection in basic neuroanatomical studies or clinical neurosurgical planning.
Keywords: Deterministic fiber tracking; Diffusion MRI; Structural connectome; Topology; Tractography.