RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: To perform a retrospective, quantitative assessment of the anatomic relationship between intra-axial, supratentorial, primary brain tumors, and adjacent white matter fiber tracts based on anatomic and diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We hypothesized that white matter infiltration may be common among different types of tumor.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Preoperative, anatomic (T1- and T2-weighted), and LINESCAN diffusion tensor MRI were obtained in 12 patients harboring supratentorial gliomas (World Health Organization [WHO] Grades II and III). The two imaging modalities were rigidly registered. The tumors were manually segmented from the T1- and T2-weighted MRI, and their volume calculated. A three-dimensional tractography was performed in each case. A second segmentation and volume measurement was performed on the tumor regions intersecting adjacent white matter fiber tracts. Statistical methods included summary statistics to examine the fraction of tumor volume infiltrating adjacent white matter.
RESULTS: There were five patients with low-grade oligodendroglioma (WHO Grade II), one with low-grade mixed oligoastrocytoma (WHO Grade II), one with ganglioglioma, two with low-grade astrocytoma (WHO Grade II), and three with anaplastic astrocytoma (WHO Grade III). We identified white matter tracts infiltrated by tumor in all 12 cases. The median tumor volume (+/- standard deviation) in our patient population was 42.5 +/- 28.9 mL. The median tumor volume (+/- standard deviation) infiltrating white matter fiber tracts was 5.2 +/- 9.9 mL. The median percentage of tumor volume infiltrating white matter fiber tracts was 21.4% +/- 9.7%.
CONCLUSIONS: The information provided by diffusion tensor imaging combined with anatomic MRI might be useful for neurosurgical planning and intraoperative guidance. Our results confirm previous reports that extensive white matter infiltration by primary brain tumors is a common occurrence. However, prospective, large population studies are required to definitively clarify this issue, and how infiltration relates to histologic tumor type, tumor size, and location.