Changes in fiber integrity, diffusivity, and metabolism of the pyramidal tract adjacent to gliomas: a quantitative diffusion tensor fiber tracking and MR spectroscopic imaging study

A Stadlbauer, C Nimsky, S Gruber, E Moser, T Hammen, T Engelhorn, M Buchfelder, O Ganslandt
AJNR. American Journal of Neuroradiology 2007, 28 (3): 462-9

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The underlying changes in the neuronal connectivity adjacent to brain tumors cannot always be depicted by conventional MR imaging. The hypothesis of this study was that preoperative sensorimotor deficits are associated with impairment in pyramidal fiber bundles. Hence, we investigated the potential of combined quantitative diffusion tensor (DT) fiber tracking and MR spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) to determine changes in the pyramidal tract adjacent to gliomas.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Quantitative DT fiber tracking and proton MRSI were performed in 20 patients with gliomas with WHO grades II-IV. Eight patients experienced preoperative sensorimotor deficits. Mean diffusivity (MD), fractional anisotropy (FA), and number of fibers per voxel (FpV) were calculated for the pyramidal tract of the ipsilateral and contralateral hemisphere. Metabolite concentrations for choline-containing compounds (Cho), creatine (Cr), and N-acetylaspartate (NAA) were computed, using LCModel, for all voxels located at the pyramidal tracts.

RESULTS: For the whole pyramidal tract, quantitative DT fiber tracking resulted in significantly lower FpV and FA values (P < .001), but not MD values, for the ipsilateral hemisphere. For the section of the fiber bundle closest to the lesion, we found significantly decreased FpV and FA (P < .001) and increased MD (P = .002). MRSI showed, for the same volumes of interest, significantly decreased NAA (P = .001), increased Cho (P = .034) and Cho/NAA (P = .001) for the ipsilateral pyramidal tract. In patients suffering sensorimotor deficits, we found significantly lower FA (P = .022) and higher MD values (P = .026) and a strongly negative correlation between FA and MD (R = -0.710, P = .024) but no correlation in patients without deficits (R = 0.078, ns).

CONCLUSION: Quantitative DTI was able to show significant differences in diffusivity of the pyramidal tract in patients with sensorimotor deficits in relation to patients without them. The additional use of proton MRSI may be helpful to discern whether these diffusivity changes in fiber tracts are caused by tumor infiltration or peritumoral edema.

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