Ahead of Print: Evaluation of Diffusion Tensor Imaging-Based Tractography of the Corticospinal Tract: A Correlative Study With Intraoperative Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Direct Electrical Subcortical Stimulation

BACKGROUND: The accuracy of intraoperative diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)-based tractography of the corticospinal tract (CST) is crucial for its use in neurosurgical planning and its implementation in image-guided surgery. To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest prospective study of the intraoperative direct electrical subcortical stimulation (DESS) of the CST with intraoperative DTI tractography of the CST, with application of intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI).

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate intraoperatively acquired DTI-based tractography of the CST in correlation with DESS.

METHODS: Twenty patients with gliomas (grades II-IV) adjacent to the CST were included in this prospective study. Bilateral DTI tractography of the CST was performed pre- and intraoperatively with application of 1.5-T iMRI and the results correlated and compared with the prevailing gold standard of DESS. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value were considered to quantify the correlation of DTI tractography with DESS. The intensity of DESS was correlated with the distance from the CST. Moreover, the tissue quality of stimulation points at the wall of the resection cavity was evaluated with 5-aminolevulinic acid. The clinical and volumetric outcomes at postoperative and follow-up periods were also analyzed.

RESULTS: The mean +/- SD age of the patients was 54.9 +/- 12 years. A total of 40 CSTs were reconstructed and 36 stimulations were included at 20 pathological CSTs, resulting in 18 true- positive, 5 false-positive, and 13 true-negative responses. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of DTI tractography to localize the CST were 100%, 72%, 78%, and 100%, respectively. DTI-based tractography correlated well at 86% of DESSs, and a linear correlation was detected between the intensity of DESS and the distance. All of the patients improved clinically, and the mean extent of resection was 97.2%. 5-Aminolevulinic acid was valuable in visualizing tumor infiltration in the false-positive cases, suggesting an infiltration of the CST at stimulation points.

CONCLUSION: CST visualization in the iMRI setting appears to have a high sensitivity in accurately localizing the area of the CST adjacent to the resection cavity in glioma surgery. More prospective studies with a large sample size are needed to further support the results.

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