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Neuroreport. 2017 May 24;28(8):457-461. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000788.

A method for u-fiber quantification from 7 T diffusion-weighted MRI data tested in patients with nonlesional focal epilepsy.

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Departments of aRadiology bPsychiatry cNeurology dTranslational and Molecular Imaging Institute eGraduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA.


In this methods development, we present an ultra-high-field, diffusion-weighted MRI method to quantitatively assess u-fibers and use it to compare u-fiber counts in nonlesional epilepsy patients with controls. Emerging evidence implicates white matter abnormalities in nonlesional epilepsy, including the short-range, cortical-cortical connections, or u-fibers. Eight patients with nonlesional epilepsy and eight demographically matched controls underwent 7 T MRI consisting of a T1-weighted sequence (0.7 mm isotropic resolution) and high-angular-resolved diffusion-weighted MRI (1.05 mm isotropic resolution, 68 directions). MRI data were used to quantify u-fiber counts in known u-fiber populations on the basis of an atlas and fiber tractography. From tractography, connectivity matrices summarizing the u-fiber counts were computed. Quantitative group comparisons were performed on the connectivity matrices. U-fiber counts were found to be lower on average in patients with epilepsy than in healthy controls. The results indicate that the density or the number of u-fibers is reduced in patients with nonlesional epilepsy. Future work will focus on histological validation and determining whether differences in u-fiber counts can be used clinically to noninvasively identify seizure-onset zones.

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