Object. The goal of this study was to use diffusion-tensor (DT) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to track fibers combined with cortical stimulation mapping to delineate descending motor pathways. Subcortical localization of motor pathways in relation to a glioma may provide critical information to guide tumor resection and prevent surgical morbidity.
Methods. Eleven adult patients harboring gliomas underwent MR imaging 1 day prior to image-guided intraoperative cortical motor mapping and tumor resection. Screens depicting 27 cortical motor sites on a surgical navigation system were saved to launch DT imaging of fiber tracks of descending motor pathways. The position and organization of motor tracts were visualized by fiber tracking. Tracks from 16 motor stimulation sites followed descending pathways from the precentral gyrus, through the corona radiata and internal capsule, and into the cerebral peduncle. These tracks were also observed on DT images to diverge along crossing white matter bundles (four patients) and to terminate or deviate in regions of peritumoral vasogenic edema (five patients).
Conclusions. The use of precise intraoperative cortical mapping information and DT images of fiber tracks can reveal the course of motor pathways beneath the cortex. The subcortical fiber tracks generated are consistent with the known anatomical course and somatotopic organization of the motor tract in relation to its cortical origins. Tracking fibers by using DT imaging in combination with functional localization has the potential to reduce surgical morbidity by revealing subcortical connections of the functional cortex.