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Neuroimage. 2012 Sep;62(3):1600-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.05.059. Epub 2012 May 29.

A new approach for corticospinal tract reconstruction based on navigated transcranial stimulation and standardized fractional anisotropy values.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Charité University Hospital, Berlin, Germany.



To establish a novel approach for fiber tracking based on navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) mapping of the primary motor cortex and to propose a new algorithm for determination of an individualized fractional anisotropy value for reliable and objective fiber tracking.


50 patients (22 females, 28 males, median age 58 years (20-80)) with brain tumors compromising the primary motor cortex and the corticospinal tract underwent preoperative MR imaging and nTMS mapping. Stimulation spots evoking muscle potentials (MEP) closest to the tumor were imported into the fiber tracking software and set as seed points for tractography. Next the individual FA threshold, i.e. the highest FA value leading to visualization of tracts at a predefined minimum fiber length of 110 mm, was determined. Fiber tracking was then performed at a fractional anisotropy value of 75% and 50% of the individual FA threshold. In addition, fiber tracking according to the conventional knowledge-based approach was performed. Results of tractography of either method were presented to the surgeon for preoperative planning and integrated into the navigation system and its impact was rated using a questionnaire.


Mapping of the motor cortex was successful in all patients. A fractional anisotropy threshold for corticospinal tract reconstruction could be obtained in every case. TMS-based results changed or modified surgical strategy in 23 of 50 patients (46%), whereas knowledge-based results would have changed surgical strategy in 11 of 50 patients (22%). Tractography results facilitated intraoperative orientation and electrical stimulation in 28 of 50 (56%) patients. Tracking at 75% of the individual FA thresholds was considered most beneficial by the respective surgeons.


Fiber tracking based on nTMS by the proposed standardized algorithm represents an objective visualization method based on functional data and provides a valuable instrument for preoperative planning and intraoperative orientation and monitoring.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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