The posterior visual pathway is commonly affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) pathology that results in measurable clinical and electrophysiological impairment. Due to its highly structured retinotopic mapping, the visual pathway represents an ideal substrate for investigating patho-mechanisms in MS. Therefore, a reliable and robust imaging segmentation method for in-vivo delineation of the optic radiations (OR) is needed. However, diffusion-based tractography approaches, which are typically used for OR segmentation are confounded by the presence of focal white matter lesions. Current solutions require complex acquisition paradigms and demand expert image analysis, limiting application in both clinical trials and clinical practice. In the current study, using data acquired in a clinical setting on a 3T scanner, we optimised and compared two approaches for optic radiation (OR) reconstruction: individual probabilistic tractography-based and template-based methods. OR segmentation results were applied to subjects with MS and volumetric and diffusivity parameters were compared between OR segmentation techniques. Despite differences in reconstructed OR volumes, both OR lesion volume and OR diffusivity measurements in MS subjects were highly comparable using optimised probabilistic tractography-based, and template-based, methods. The choice of OR reconstruction technique should be determined primarily by the research question and the nature of the available dataset. Template-based approaches are particularly suited to the semi-automated analysis of large image datasets and have utility even in the absence of dMRI acquisitions. Individual tractography methods, while more complex than template based OR reconstruction, permit measurement of diffusivity changes along fibre bundles that are affected by specific MS lesions or other focal pathologies.
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- DIFFUSION MRI
- HUMAN BRAIN