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Diffusion imaging and tractography in the paediatric neurosurgical population

Bull, J.G.; (2011) Diffusion imaging and tractography in the paediatric neurosurgical population. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access


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Diffusion MRI uses magnetic field gradients to sensitise a MR sequence to in vivo water diffusion. Application of these gradients in specific directions (20 in this work) enables a 3D representation of diffusion on a voxel basis. Quantitative diffusion measures are derived; using the voxel maximal diffusion direction and linking neighbouring voxels iteratively based on this creates a visual construct of the white matter: tractography. It is not possible, currently, to non-invasively determine the histological nature of an intracranial tumour. We recruited paediatric patients with radiological evidence of such lesions from April 2006 to January 2008 and retrospectively to August 2003. We used diffusion MR metrics to discriminate paediatric central nervous system tumours based on existing histological diagnoses. Using apparent diffusion coefficient histograms, common posterior fossa childhood tumours were differentiated with 93% success; Primitive neuroectodermal tumours (PNET) and supratentorial atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumours (ATRT) were separated in 100% of cases. Development of these methods with a larger population may facilitate the obviation of surgical biopsy and its attendant risks. Diffusion data was used to reconstruct the cerebellar white matter anatomy using tractography. Initially a population of normal subjects were investigated using single region of interest (ROI) analysis. DTI metrics were implemented, demonstrating the existence of white matter asymmetry where lateralisation corresponded to handedness in 17 right-handed subjects. To asses functional significance of changes in DTI metrics; clinical cerebellar dysfunction was correlated with changes in cerebellar white matter DTI metrics in a patient population with posterior fossa tumours and with the normal population. Fractional anisotropy of the tracts was reduced in patients with tumours d clinical cerebellar signs as compared to healthy individuals. This work demonstrates that diffusion MRI and tractography metrics may enable discrimination of paediatric CNS tumour type and are related to the functional integrity of cerebellar white matter tracts.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Diffusion imaging and tractography in the paediatric neurosurgical population
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1331873
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