Traditionally neurosurgeons have had a tough time navigating through the brain during surgery. New technologies like MRI Tractography are now allowing them to design more direct trajectories to brain tumors as well safely remove more of the tumor minimizing damage to healthy brain tissue.
What Is MRI Tractography?
Congenital anomalies related to the brain often demonstrate aberrant white matter connections, which may be better characterized with Diffusion-Tensor Imaging (DTI) and Fiber Tractography (FT) rather than conventional Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI).
Diffusion Tensor Magnetic Resonance Imaging(DT-MRI), an innovative diagnostic technique is a variation of the standard MRI. It is used to create images of internal organs through magnetic images. The DTI isolates water movement within the brain, which allows doctors to isolate regions that are not functioning properly. Along with Tractography, a tool to enhance brain mapping, this is quickly becoming an invaluable tool for the planning of brain surgery, allowing for visualization and localization of important white matter pathways.
Traditional MRI scans cannot highlight these abnormalities, because they do not have the capability of tracking water molecules in the brain’s white matter. Within the brain’s white matter, water molecules tend to diffuse more freely along the direction of axonal fascicles than across them.
How Is MRI Tractography Performed?
Fiber Tractography (FT) is a 3D reconstruction technique to access neural tracts using data collected by DTI.
- Anisotropy or the directional dependence of diffusivity of the water molecules in white matter in studied.
- Color coding of brain fibres is done.
- Quantitative analysis methods are applied to form graphs.
- DTI data acquisition is done with application of diffusion gradients in multiple directions.
- Abnormal areas in the brain are isolated.
This method is slowly becoming the method of choice to investigate quantitative MRI parameters in specific bundles of white matter.
Side Effects/Risks Of MRI Tractography
Although it is a new and developing field, it’s potential is huge. Limitations of Tractography mainly include:
- Tricky to accurately interpret results.
- Common misconceptions limiting its use.
Preparation before performing MRI Tractography
Although MRIs don’t require any special prep, few pointers include:
- Follow pre-appointment restrictions like diet and medications.
- Make a note of your symptoms, medical history, personal information including medications, and supplements.
- Send in your medical reports or carry them with you.
- Let a family member or friend accompany you.
Post-Care After MRI Tractography
After your MRI remember to:
- Drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated.
- Avoid stressful situations or over exerting yourself.
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