Performance of Unscented Kalman Filter Tractography in Edema: Analysis of the Two-tensor Model


Ruizhi Liao, Lipeng Ning, Zhenrui Chen, Laura Rigolo, Shun Gong, Ofer Pasternak, Alexandra J Golby, Yogesh Rathi, Lauren J O'Donnell, and JV ckovic. 2017. “Performance of Unscented Kalman Filter Tractography in Edema: Analysis of the Two-tensor Model.” Neuroimage Clin, 15, Pp. 819-31. Copy at


Diffusion MRI tractography is increasingly used in pre-operative neurosurgical planning to visualize critical fiber tracts. However, a major challenge for conventional tractography, especially in patients with brain tumors, is tracing fiber tracts that are affected by vasogenic edema, which increases water content in the tissue and lowers diffusion anisotropy. One strategy for improving fiber tracking is to use a tractography method that is more sensitive than the traditional single-tensor streamline tractography. We performed experiments to assess the performance of two-tensor unscented Kalman filter (UKF) tractography in edema. UKF tractography fits a diffusion model to the data during fiber tracking, taking advantage of prior information from the previous step along the fiber. We studied UKF performance in a synthetic diffusion MRI digital phantom with simulated edema and in retrospective data from two neurosurgical patients with edema affecting the arcuate fasciculus and corticospinal tracts. We compared the performance of several tractography methods including traditional streamline, UKF single-tensor, and UKF two-tensor. To provide practical guidance on how the UKF method could be employed, we evaluated the impact of using various seed regions both inside and outside the edematous regions, as well as the impact of parameter settings on the tractography sensitivity. We quantified the sensitivity of different methods by measuring the percentage of the patient-specific fMRI activation that was reached by the tractography. We expected that diffusion anisotropy threshold parameters, as well as the inclusion of a free water model, would significantly influence the reconstruction of edematous WM fiber tracts, because edema increases water content in the tissue and lowers anisotropy. Contrary to our initial expectations, varying the fractional anisotropy threshold and including a free water model did not affect the UKF two-tensor tractography output appreciably in these two patient datasets. The most effective parameter for increasing tracking sensitivity was the generalized anisotropy (GA) threshold, which increased the length of tracked fibers when reduced to 0.075. In addition, the most effective seeding strategy was seeding in the whole brain or in a large region outside of the edema. Overall, the main contribution of this study is to provide insight into how UKF tractography can work, using a two-tensor model, to begin to address the challenge of fiber tract reconstruction in edematous regions near brain tumors.
Last updated on 09/18/2017