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Technol Cancer Res Treat. 2004 Dec;3(6):567-76.

The role of diffusion tensor imaging in establishing the proximity of tumor borders to functional brain systems: implications for preoperative risk assessments and postoperative outcomes.

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  • 1Division of Neuroradiology, Department of Radiology, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA. julmer@mcw.edu


Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) is a new MRI imaging technique sensitive to directional movements of water molecules, induced by tissue barriers. This provides a new form of contrast that allows the identification of functional white matter tracts within the brain, and has been proposed as a technique suitable for presurgical planning in brain tumor patients. Resection of primary brain tumors improves survival, functional performance, and the effectiveness of adjuvant therapies, provided that surgically-induced neurological deficits can be avoided. Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) has the potential to establish spatial relationships between eloquent white matter and tumor borders, provide information essential to preoperative planning, and improve the accuracy of surgical risk assessments preoperatively. We present our experience in a series of 28 brain tumor patients where the integration of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and DTI data was used to determine key anatomic spatial relationships preoperatively. Twice as many functional systems were localized to within 5 mm of tumor borders when DTI and fMRI were utilized for preoperative planning, compared to that afforded by fMRI alone. Our results show that the combined use of fMRI and DTI can provide a better estimation of the proximity of tumor borders to eloquent brain systems sub-serving language, speech, vision, motor and premotor functions. Additionally, a low regional complication rate (4%) observed in our series suggests that preoperative planning with these combined techniques may improve surgical outcomes compared to that previously reported in the literature. Larger studies specifically designed to establish the accuracy and predictive value of DTI in brain tumor patients are warranted to substantiate our preliminary observations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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