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Personalized brain mapping technique preserves function following brain tumor surgery
Date:4/1/2013

PHILADELPHIA - Neurosurgeons can visualize important pathways in the brain using an imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), to better adapt brain tumor surgeries and preserve language, visual and motor function while removing cancerous tissue. In the latest issue of Neurosurgical Focus, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania review research showing that this ability to visualize relevant white matter tracts during glioma resection surgeries can improve accuracy and, in some groups, significantly extend survival (median survival of 21.2 months) compared to cases where DTI was not used (median survival of 14 months).

"We can view the brain from the inside out now, with 3D images detailing connectivity within the brain, making a virtual intraoperative map," said senior author Steven Brem, MD, professor of Neurosurgery, chief of the Division of Neurosurgical Oncology and co-director of the Penn Brain Tumor Center. "Penn is at the forefront of a major shift in the field - we now have such detail about each individual's brain tumor - combining diffusion tensor imaging and advanced imaging with the entire personalized diagnostics analysis available for all brain tumor patients at Penn Medicine."

Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) provides a rendering of axon pathways, by tracking water molecules in the brain as they travel in a direction parallel to axonal fibers, in a 3D model known as "the diffusion tensor." The diffusion tensor directly represents the direction of water and indirectly represents the orientation of white matter fibers. The colorful images, captured as part of an 8 minute sequence during an MRI, show representations of clusters of axon fibers, where each color indicates a direction of travel, and offer a glimpse of the interwoven communication superhighways of the brain.

"The DTI images can be overlaid with structural and functional MRI images, providing a
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Contact: Kim Menard
kim.menard@uphs.upenn.edu
215-662-6183
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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