Real-time tractography-assisted neuronavigation for TMS


Background State-of-the-art navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) systems can display the TMS coil position relative to the structural magnetic resonance image (MRI) of the subject’s brain and calculate the induced electric field. However, the local effect of TMS propagates via the white-matter network to different areas of the brain, and currently there is no commercial or research neuronavigation system that can highlight in real time the brain’s structural connections during TMS. Objective To develop a real-time tractography-assisted TMS neuronavigation system and investigate its feasibility. Method We propose a modular framework that seamlessly integrates offline (preparatory) analysis of diffusion MRI data with online (real-time) tractography. For tractography and neuronavigation we combine our custom software Trekker and InVesalius, respectively. We evaluate the feasibility of our system by comparing online and offline tractography results in terms of streamline count and their overlap. Results A real-time tractography-assisted TMS neuronavigation system is developed. Key features include the application of state-of-the-art tractography practices, the ability to tune tractography parameters on the fly, and the display of thousands of new streamlines every few seconds using a novel uncertainty visualization technique. We demonstrate in a video the feasibility and quantitatively show the agreement with offline filtered streamlines. Conclusion Real-time tractography-assisted TMS neuronavigation is feasible. With our system, it is possible to target specific brain regions based on their structural connectivity, and to aim for the fiber tracts that make up the brain’s networks.


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Dogu Baran Aydogan
Dogu Baran Aydogan
Group leader, Academy Research Fellow

I am interested in computational neuroimaging, connectivity of the brain and brain stimulation