The hypothesis that brain pathways form 2D sheet-like structures layered in 3D as "pages of a book" has been a topic of debate in the recent literature. This hypothesis was mainly supported by a qualitative evaluation of "path neighborhoods" reconstructed with diffusion MRI (dMRI) tractography. Notwithstanding the potentially important implications of the sheet structure hypothesis for our understanding of brain structure and development, it is still considered controversial by many for lack of quantitative analysis. A means to quantify sheet structure is therefore necessary to reliably investigate its occurrence in the brain. Previous work has proposed the Lie bracket as a quantitative indicator of sheet structure, which could be computed by reconstructing path neighborhoods from the peak orientations of dMRI orientation density functions. Robust estimation of the Lie bracket, however, is challenging due to high noise levels and missing peak orientations. We propose a novel method to estimate the Lie bracket that does not involve the reconstruction of path neighborhoods with tractography. This method requires the computation of derivatives of the fiber peak orientations, for which we adopt an approach called normalized convolution. With simulations and experimental data we show that the new approach is more robust with respect to missing peaks and noise. We also demonstrate that the method is able to quantify to what extent sheet structure is supported for dMRI data of different species, acquired with different scanners, diffusion weightings, dMRI sampling schemes, and spatial resolutions. The proposed method can also be used with directional data derived from other techniques than dMRI, which will facilitate further validation of the existence of sheet structure.
Aligning brain structures across individuals is a central prerequisite for comparative neuroimaging studies. Typically, registration approaches assume a strong association between the features used for alignment, such as macro-anatomy, and the variable observed, such as functional activation or connectivity. Here, we propose to use the structure of intrinsic resting state fMRI signal correlation patterns as a basis for alignment of the cortex in functional studies. Rather than assuming the spatial correspondence of functional structures between subjects, we have identified locations with similar connectivity profiles across subjects. We mapped functional connectivity relationships within the brain into an embedding space, and aligned the resulting maps of multiple subjects. We then performed a diffeomorphic alignment of the cortical surfaces, driven by the corresponding features in the joint embedding space. Results show that functional alignment based on resting state fMRI identifies functionally homologous regions across individuals with higher accuracy than alignment based on the spatial correspondence of anatomy. Further, functional alignment enables measurement of the strength of the anatomo-functional link across the cortex, and reveals the uneven distribution of this link. Stronger anatomo-functional dissociation was found in higher association areas compared to primary sensory- and motor areas. Functional alignment based on resting state features improves group analysis of task based functional MRI data, increasing statistical power and improving the delineation of task-specific core regions. Finally, a comparison of the anatomo-functional dissociation between cohorts is demonstrated with a group of left and right handed subjects.
The assessment of the free water fraction in the brain provides important information about extracellular processes such as atrophy and neuroinflammation in various clinical conditions as well as in normal development and aging. Free water estimates from diffusion MRI are assumed to account for freely diffusing water molecules in the extracellular space, but may be biased by other pools of molecules in rapid random motion, such as the intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) of blood, where water molecules perfuse in the randomly oriented capillary network. The goal of this work was to separate the signal contribution of the perfusing blood from that of free-water and of other brain diffusivities. The influence of the vascular compartment on the estimation of the free water fraction and other diffusivities was investigated by simulating perfusion in diffusion MRI data. The perfusion effect in the simulations was significant, especially for the estimation of the free water fraction, and was maintained as long as low b-value data were included in the analysis. Two approaches to reduce the perfusion effect were explored in this study: (i) increasing the minimal b-value used in the fitting, and (ii) using a three-compartment model that explicitly accounts for water molecules in the capillary blood. Estimation of the model parameters while excluding low b-values reduced the perfusion effect but was highly sensitive to noise. The three-compartment model fit was more stable and additionally, provided an estimation of the volume fraction of the capillary blood compartment. The three-compartment model thus disentangles the effects of free water diffusion and perfusion, which is of major clinical importance since changes in these components in the brain may indicate different pathologies, i.e., those originating from the extracellular space, such as neuroinflammation and atrophy, and those related to the vascular space, such as vasodilation, vasoconstriction and capillary density. Diffusion MRI data acquired from a healthy volunteer, using multiple b-shells, demonstrated an expected non-zero contribution from the blood fraction, and indicated that not accounting for the perfusion effect may explain the overestimation of the free water fraction evinced in previous studies. Finally, the applicability of the method was demonstrated with a dataset acquired using a clinically feasible protocol with shorter acquisition time and fewer b-shells.
Diffusion imaging is critical for detecting acute brain injury. However, normal apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps change rapidly in early childhood, making abnormality detection difficult. In this article, we explored clinical PACS and electronic healthcare records (EHR) to create age-specific ADC atlases for clinical radiology reference. Using the EHR and three rounds of multiexpert reviews, we found ADC maps from 201 children 0-6 years of age scanned between 2006 and 2013 who had brain MRIs with no reported abnormalities and normal clinical evaluations 2+ years later. These images were grouped in 10 age bins, densely sampling the first 1 year of life (5 bins, including neonates and 4 quarters) and representing the 1-6 year age range (an age bin per year). Unbiased group-wise registration was used to construct ADC atlases for 10 age bins. We used the atlases to quantify (a) cross-sectional normative ADC variations; (b) spatiotemporal heterogeneous ADC changes; and (c) spatiotemporal heterogeneous volumetric changes. The quantified age-specific whole-brain and region-wise ADC values were compared to those from age-matched individual subjects in our study and in multiple existing independent studies. The significance of this study is that we have shown that clinically acquired images can be used to construct normative age-specific atlases. These first of their kind age-specific normative ADC atlases quantitatively characterize changes of myelination-related water diffusion in the first 6 years of life. The quantified voxel-wise spatiotemporal ADC variations provide standard references to assist radiologists toward more objective interpretation of abnormalities in clinical images. Our atlases are available at https://www.nitrc.org/projects/mgh_adcatlases.
The Open Anatomy Browser (OABrowser) is an open source, web-based, zero-installation anatomy atlas viewer based on current web browser technologies and evolving anatomy atlas interoperability standards. OABrowser displays three-dimensional anatomical models, image cross-sections of labeled structures and source radiological imaging, and a text-based hierarchy of structures. The viewer includes novel collaborative tools: users can save bookmarks of atlas views for later access and exchange those bookmarks with other users, and dynamic shared views allow groups of users can participate in a collaborative interactive atlas viewing session. We have published several anatomy atlases (an MRI-derived brain atlas and atlases of other parts of the anatomy) to demonstrate OABrowser's functionality. The atlas source data, processing tools, and the source for OABrowser are freely available through GitHub and are distributed under a liberal open source license.
PURPOSE: During medical needle placement using image-guided navigation systems, the clinician must concentrate on a screen. To reduce the clinician's visual reliance on the screen, this work proposes an auditory feedback method as a stand-alone method or to support visual feedback for placing the navigated medical instrument, in this case a needle. METHODS: An auditory synthesis model using pitch comparison and stereo panning parameter mapping was developed to augment or replace visual feedback for navigated needle placement. In contrast to existing approaches which augment but still require a visual display, this method allows view-free needle placement. An evaluation with 12 novice participants compared both auditory and combined audiovisual feedback against existing visual methods. RESULTS: Using combined audiovisual display, participants show similar task completion times and report similar subjective workload and accuracy while viewing the screen less compared to using the conventional visual method. The auditory feedback leads to higher task completion times and subjective workload compared to both combined and visual feedback. CONCLUSION: Audiovisual feedback shows promising results and establishes a basis for applying auditory feedback as a supplement to visual information to other navigated interventions, especially those for which viewing a patient is beneficial or necessary.
Implant placement has been widely used in various kinds of surgery. However, accurate intraoperative drilling performance is essential to avoid injury to adjacent structures. Although some commercially-available surgical navigation systems have been approved for clinical applications, these systems are expensive and the source code is not available to researchers. 3D Slicer is a free, open source software platform for the research community of computer-aided surgery. In this study, a loadable module based on Slicer has been developed and validated to support surgical navigation. This research module allows reliable calibration of the surgical drill, point-based registration and surface matching registration, so that the position and orientation of the surgical drill can be tracked and displayed on the computer screen in real time, aiming at reducing risks. In accuracy verification experiments, the mean target registration error (TRE) for point-based and surface-based registration were 0.31±0.06mm and 1.01±0.06mm respectively, which should meet clinical requirements. Both phantom and cadaver experiments demonstrated the feasibility of our surgical navigation software module.
We consider diffusion within pores with general shapes in the presence of spatially linear magnetic field profiles. The evolution of local magnetization of the spin bearing particles can be described by the Bloch-Torrey equation. We study the diffusive process in the eigenbasis of the non-Hermitian Bloch-Torrey operator. It is possible to find expressions for some special temporal gradient waveforms employed to sensitize the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) signal to diffusion. For more general gradient waveforms, we derive an efficient numerical solution by introducing a novel matrix formalism. Compared to previous methods, this new approach requires a fewer number of eigenfunctions to achieve the same accuracy. This shows that these basis functions are better suited to the problem studied. The new framework could provide new important insights into the fundamentals of diffusion sensitization, which could further the development of the field of NMR.
INTRODUCTION: Huntington's disease (HD) is a genetic neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects striatal neurons. Striatal volume loss is present years before clinical diagnosis; however, white matter degradation may also occur prior to diagnosis. Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) can measure microstructural changes associated with degeneration that precede macrostructural changes. DWI derived measures enhance understanding of degeneration in prodromal HD (pre-HD). METHODS: As part of the PREDICT-HD study, N = 191 pre-HD individuals and 70 healthy controls underwent two or more (baseline and 1-5 year follow-up) DWI, with n = 649 total sessions. Images were processed using cutting-edge DWI analysis methods for large multicenter studies. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) metrics were computed in selected tracts connecting the primary motor, primary somato-sensory, and premotor areas of the cortex with the subcortical caudate and putamen. Pre-HD participants were divided into three CAG-Age Product (CAP) score groups reflecting clinical diagnosis probability (low, medium, or high probabilities). Baseline and longitudinal group differences were examined using linear mixed models. RESULTS: Cross-sectional and longitudinal differences in DTI measures were present in all three CAP groups compared with controls. The high CAP group was most affected. CONCLUSIONS: This is the largest longitudinal DWI study of pre-HD to date. Findings showed DTI differences, consistent with white matter degeneration, were present up to a decade before predicted HD diagnosis. Our findings indicate a unique role for disrupted connectivity between the premotor area and the putamen, which may be closely tied to the onset of motor symptoms in HD.
PURPOSE: Characterizing the relation between the applied gradient sequences and the measured diffusion MRI signal is important for estimating the time-dependent diffusivity, which provides important information about the microscopic tissue structure. THEORY AND METHODS: In this article, we extend the classical theory of Stepišnik for measuring time-dependent diffusivity under the Gaussian phase approximation. In particular, we derive three novel expressions which represent the diffusion MRI signal in terms of the mean-squared displacement, the instantaneous diffusivity, and the velocity autocorrelation function. We present the explicit signal expressions for the case of single diffusion encoding and oscillating gradient spin-echo sequences. Additionally, we also propose three different models to represent time-varying diffusivity and test them using Monte-Carlo simulations and in vivo human brain data. RESULTS: The time-varying diffusivities are able to distinguish the synthetic structures in the Monte-Carlo simulations. There is also strong statistical evidence about time-varying diffusivity from the in vivo human data set. CONCLUSION: The proposed theory provides new insights into our understanding of the time-varying diffusivity using different gradient sequences. The proposed models for representing time-varying diffusivity can be utilized to study time-varying diffusivity using in vivo human brain diffusion MRI data.
Inferring the microstructure of complex media from the diffusive motion of molecules is a challenging problem in diffusion physics. In this paper, we introduce a novel representation of diffusion MRI (dMRI) signal from tissue with spatially-varying diffusivity using a diffusion disturbance function. This disturbance function contains information about the (intra-voxel) spatial fluctuations in diffusivity due to restrictions, hindrances and tissue heterogeneity of the underlying tissue substrate. We derive the short- and long-range disturbance coefficients from this disturbance function to characterize the tissue structure and organization. Moreover, we provide an exact relation between the disturbance coefficients and the time-varying moments of the diffusion propagator, as well as their relation to specific tissue microstructural information such as the intra-axonal volume fraction and the apparent axon radius. The proposed approach is quite general and can model dMRI signal for any type of gradient sequence (rectangular, oscillating, etc.) without using the Gaussian phase approximation. The relevance of the proposed PICASO model is explored using Monte-Carlo simulations and in-vivo dMRI data. The results show that the estimated disturbance coefficients can distinguish different types of microstructural organization of axons.
The basal ganglia is part of a complex system of neuronal circuits that play a key role in the integration and execution of motor, cognitive and emotional function in the human brain. Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder of the motor circuit characterized by tremor, rigidity, and slowness of movement. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus and the globus pallidus pars interna provides an efficient treatment to reduce symptoms and levodopa-induced side effects in Parkinson's disease patients. While the underlying mechanism of action of DBS is still unknown, the potential modulation of white matter tracts connecting the surgical targets has become an active area of research. With the introduction of advanced diffusion MRI acquisition sequences and sophisticated post-processing techniques, the architecture of the human brain white matter can be explored in vivo. The goal of this study is to investigate the white matter connectivity between the subthalamic nucleus and the globus pallidus. Two multi-fiber tractography methods were used to reconstruct pallido-subthalamic, subthalamo-pallidal and pyramidal fibers in five healthy subjects datasets of the Human Connectome Project. The anatomical accuracy of the tracts was assessed by four judges with expertise in neuroanatomy, functional neurosurgery, and diffusion MRI. The variability among subjects was evaluated based on the fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity of the tracts. Both multi-fiber approaches enabled the detection of complex fiber architecture in the basal ganglia. The qualitative evaluation by experts showed that the identified tracts were in agreement with the expected anatomy. Tract-derived measurements demonstrated relatively low variability among subjects. False-negative tracts demonstrated the current limitations of both methods for clinical decision-making. Multi-fiber tractography methods combined with state-of-the-art diffusion MRI data have the potential to help identify white matter tracts connecting DBS targets in functional neurosurgery intervention.
Neurosurgery makes use of preoperative imaging to visualize pathology, inform surgical planning, and evaluate the safety of selected approaches. The utility of preoperative imaging for neuronavigation, however, is diminished by the well-characterized phenomenon of brain shift, in which the brain deforms intraoperatively as a result of craniotomy, swelling, gravity, tumor resection, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage, and many other factors. As such, there is a need for updated intraoperative information that accurately reflects intraoperative conditions. Since 1982, intraoperative ultrasound has allowed neurosurgeons to craft and update operative plans without ionizing radiation exposure or major workflow interruption. Continued evolution of ultrasound technology since its introduction has resulted in superior imaging quality, smaller probes, and more seamless integration with neuronavigation systems. Furthermore, the introduction of related imaging modalities, such as 3-dimensional ultrasound, contrast-enhanced ultrasound, high-frequency ultrasound, and ultrasound elastography, has dramatically expanded the options available to the neurosurgeon intraoperatively. In the context of these advances, we review the current state, potential, and challenges of intraoperative ultrasound for brain tumor resection. We begin by evaluating these ultrasound technologies and their relative advantages and disadvantages. We then review three specific applications of these ultrasound technologies to brain tumor resection: (1) intraoperative navigation, (2) assessment of extent of resection, and (3) brain shift monitoring and compensation. We conclude by identifying opportunities for future directions in the development of ultrasound technologies.
Significant efforts have been dedicated to minimizing invasiveness associated with surgical interventions, most of which have been possible thanks to the developments in medical imaging, surgical navigation, visualization and display technologies. Image-guided interventions have promised to dramatically change the way therapies are delivered to many organs. However, in spite of the development of many sophisticated technologies over the past two decades, other than some isolated examples of successful implementations, minimally invasive therapy is far from enjoying the wide acceptance once envisioned. This paper provides a large-scale overview of the state-of-the-art developments, identifies several barriers thought to have hampered the wider adoption of image-guided navigation, and suggests areas of research that may potentially advance the field.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been suggested to associate with alterations in brain connectivity. In this study, we focus on a fiber clustering tractography segmentation strategy to observe white matter connectivity alterations in ASD. Compared to another popular parcellation-based approach for tractography segmentation based on cortical regions, we hypothesized that the clustering-based method could provide a more anatomically correspondent division of white matter. We applied this strategy to conduct a population-based group statistical analysis for the automated prediction of ASD. We obtained a maximum classification accuracy of 81.33% be- tween ASDs and controls, compared to the results of 78.00% from the parcellation-based method.
The Surgical Planning Laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, developed the SPL Ear Atlas. The atlas was derived from a high-resolution flat-panel computed tomography (CT) scan (aprox 140 µm high contrast resultion), using semi-automated image segmentation and three-dimensional reconstruction techniques [Gupta, Bartling, et al. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2004.]. The current version consists of: 1. the original CT scan; 2. a set of detailed label maps; 3. a set of three-dimensional models of the labeled anatomical structures; 4. mrb (Medical Reality Bundle) file archive that contains the mrml scene file and all data for loading into Slicer 4 for displaying the volumes in 3D Slicer version 4.0 or greater; 5. several pre-defined 3D-views (“anatomy teaching files”). The SPL Ear Atlas provides important reference information for surgical planning, anatomy teaching, and template driven segmentation. Visualization of the data requires 3D Slicer. This software package can be downloaded from here. We are pleased to make this atlas available to our colleagues for free download. Please note that the data is being distributed under the Slicer license. By downloading these data, you agree to acknowledge our contribution in any of your publications that result form the use of this atlas. This work is funded as part of the Neuroimaging Analysis Center, grant number P41 RR013218, by the NIH's National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and grant number P41 EB015902, by the NIH's National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and the Google Faculty Research Award.