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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2016 Aug;37(8):1470-8. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A4753. Epub 2016 Mar 31.

Electrophysiologic Validation of Diffusion Tensor Imaging Tractography during Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery.

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From the Department of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (V.A.C., B.M.)
the Clinical Trial Unit (C.J.), Freiburg University Medical Center, Freiburg, Germany.
Surgical Center for Movement Disorders/Division of Neurosurgery (C.R.H.).
From the Department of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (V.A.C., B.M.) Department of Physics and Astronomy (B.M.), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Philips Healthcare (B.M.), Hamburg, Germany.



Diffusion tensor imaging fiber tractography-assisted planning of deep brain stimulation is an emerging technology. We investigated its accuracy by using electrophysiology under clinical conditions. We hypothesized that a level of concordance between electrophysiology and DTI fiber tractography can be reached, comparable with published modeling approaches for deep brain stimulation surgery.


Eleven patients underwent subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation. DTI scans and high-resolution T1- and T2-weighted MR imaging was performed at 3T. Corticospinal tracts were traced. We studied electrode positions and current amplitudes that elicited corticospinal tract effects during the operation to determine relative corticospinal tract distance. Postoperatively, 3D deep brain stimulation electrode contact locations and stimulation patterns were applied for the same corticospinal tract distance estimation.


Intraoperative electrophysiologic (n = 40) clinical effects in 11 patients were detected. The mean intraoperative electrophysiologic corticospinal tract distance was 3.0 ± 0.6 mm; the mean image-derived corticospinal tract distance (DTI fiber tractography) was 3.0 ± 1.3 mm. The 95% limits of agreement were ±2.4 mm. Postoperative electrophysiology (n = 44) corticospinal tract activation effects were encountered in 9 patients; 39 were further evaluated. Mean electrophysiologic corticospinal tract distance was 3.7 ± 0.7 mm; for DTI fiber tractography, it was 3.2 ± 1.9 mm. The 95% limits of agreement were ±2.5 mm.


DTI fiber tractography depicted the medial corticospinal tract border with proved concordance. Although the overall range of measurements was relatively small and variance was high, we believe that further use of DTI fiber tractography to assist deep brain stimulation procedures is advisable if inherent limitations are respected. These results confirm our previously published electric field simulation studies.

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