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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2005 Apr;26(4):791-6.

Diffusion tensor imaging of the corticospinal tract before and after mass resection as correlated with clinical motor findings: preliminary data.

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Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, WI 53792-3252, USA.



The role of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in neurosurgical planning and follow-up is currently being defined and needs clinical validation. To that end, we sought correlations between preoperative and postoperative DTI and clinical motor deficits in patients with space-occupying lesions involving the corticospinal tract (CST).


DTI findings in four patients with masses near the CST and not involving motor cortex were retrospectively reviewed and compared with contralateral motor strength. CST involvement was determined from anisotropy and eigenvector directional color maps. The CST was considered involved if it was substantially deviated or had decreased anisotropy. Interpretations of the DTIs were blinded to assessments of motor strength, and vice versa.


Of the four patients with potential CST involvement before surgery, DTI confirmed CST involvement in three, all of whom had preoperative motor deficits. The patient without CST involvement on DTI had no motor deficit. After surgery, DTI showed CST preservation and normalization of the position and/or anisotropy in two of the three patients with preoperative deficits, and both of those patients had improvement in motor strength. The other patient with preoperative deficits had evidence of wallerian degeneration on DTI and had only equivocal clinical improvement.


Preoperative CST involvement, as determined on DTI, was predictive of the presence or absence of motor deficits, and postoperative CST normalization on DTI was predictive of clinical improvement. Further study is warranted to define the role of DTI in planning tumor resections and predicting postoperative motor function.

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