The DTI Challenge: Toward Standardized Evaluation of Diffusion Tensor Imaging Tractography for Neurosurgery


Sonia Pujol, Brigham and Women's Hospital
William Wells, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Carlo Pierpaoli, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Caroline Brun, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
James Gee, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Guang Cheng, University of Florida
Baba Vemuri, University of Florida
Olivier Commowick, Institut de Recherche en Informatique et Systèmes Aléatoires
Sylvain Prima, Institut de Recherche en Informatique et Systèmes Aléatoires
Aymeric Stamm, Institut de Recherche en Informatique et Systèmes Aléatoires
Maged Goubran, Robarts Research Institute
Ali Khan, Robarts Research Institute
Terry Peters, Robarts Research InstituteFollow
Peter Neher, German Cancer Research Center
Klaus H. Maier-Hein, German Cancer Research Center
Yundi Shi, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Antonio Tristan-Vega, Universidad de Valladolid
Gopalkrishna Veni, The University of Utah
Ross Whitaker, The University of Utah
Martin Styner, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Carl Fredrik Westin, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Sylvain Gouttard, The University of Utah
Isaiah Norton, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Laurent Chauvin, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Hatsuho Mamata, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Guido Gerig, The University of Utah
Arya Nabavi, International Neuroscience Institute Hannover GmbH
Alexandra Golby, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Ron Kikinis, Brigham and Women's Hospital

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Journal of Neuroimaging





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© 2015 by the American Society of Neuroimaging. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography reconstruction of white matter pathways can help guide brain tumor resection. However, DTI tracts are complex mathematical objects and the validity of tractography-derived information in clinical settings has yet to be fully established. To address this issue, we initiated the DTI Challenge, an international working group of clinicians and scientists whose goal was to provide standardized evaluation of tractography methods for neurosurgery. The purpose of this empirical study was to evaluate different tractography techniques in the first DTI Challenge workshop. Eight international teams from leading institutions reconstructed the pyramidal tract in four neurosurgical cases presenting with a glioma near the motor cortex. Tractography methods included deterministic, probabilistic, filtered, and global approaches. Standardized evaluation of the tracts consisted in the qualitative review of the pyramidal pathways by a panel of neurosurgeons and DTI experts and the quantitative evaluation of the degree of agreement among methods. RESULTS: The evaluation of tractography reconstructions showed a great interalgorithm variability. Although most methods found projections of the pyramidal tract from the medial portion of the motor strip, only a few algorithms could trace the lateral projections from the hand, face, and tongue area. In addition, the structure of disagreement among methods was similar across hemispheres despite the anatomical distortions caused by pathological tissues. The DTI Challenge provides a benchmark for the standardized evaluation of tractography methods on neurosurgical data. This study suggests that there are still limitations to the clinical use of tractography for neurosurgical decision making.

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