Diffusion Tensor Imaging and Tractography Utilized in the Resection of a Midbrain Cavernous Malformation

Ochsner J. 2020 Fall;20(3):303-306. doi: 10.31486/toj.19.0017.


Background: Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a magnetic resonance-based imaging technique that can provide important information about the underlying structure and integrity of the white matter in the brain. Tractography, a DTI postprocessing technique, can provide a detailed model of individual white matter fiber tracts. Knowledge of these tracts may be beneficial in the surgical planning and execution for neurosurgical patients. Case Report: We review the basic principles behind DTI and present an illustrative case in which DTI was used to delineate the relationship of eloquent white matter tracts to a cavernous malformation in a patient undergoing resection. Conclusion: The use of DTI during preoperative planning allows the neurosurgeon to understand if a lesion is disrupting, infiltrating, or altering the course of local white matter tracts. With the combined use of DTI and intraoperative neuronavigation, the neurosurgeon can better identify and avoid white matter tracts, not only in the local area of resection but also during approach to the lesion, thereby reducing the risk of damage to vital cortical pathways and subsequent functional impairment.

Keywords: Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging; diffusion tensor imaging; hemangioma–cavernous.

Publication types

  • Case Reports