Ventral Intermediate Nucleus structural connectivity-derived segmentation: anatomical reliability and variability
AbstractThe Ventral intermediate nucleus (Vim) of thalamus is the most targeted structure for the treatment of drug-refractory tremors. Since methodological differences across existing studies are remarkable and no gold-standard pipeline is available, in this study, we tested different parcellation pipelines for tractography-derived putative Vim identification.Thalamic parcellation was performed on a high quality, multi-shell dataset and a downsampled, clinical-like dataset using two different
... iffusion signal modeling techniques and two different voxel classification criteria, thus implementing a total of four parcellation pipelines. The most reliable pipeline in terms of inter-subject variability has been picked and parcels putatively corresponding to motor thalamic nuclei have been selected by calculating similarity with a histology-based mask of Vim. Then, spatial relations with optimal stimulation points for the treatment of essential tremor have been quantified. Finally, effect of data quality and parcellation pipelines on a volumetric index of connectivity clusters has been assessed.We found that the pipeline characterized by higher-order signal modeling and threshold-based voxel classification criteria was the most reliable in terms of inter-subject reliability regardless data quality. The maps putatively corresponding to Vim were those derived by precentral- and dentate nucleus-thalamic connectivity. However, tractography-derived functional targets showed remarkable differences in shape and sizes when compared to a ground truth model based on histochemical staining on seriate sections of human brain. Thalamic voxels connected to contralateral dentate nucleus resulted to be the closest to literature-derived stimulation points for essential tremor but at the same time showing the most remarkable inter-subject variability. Finally, the volume of connectivity parcels resulted to be significantly influenced by data quality and parcellation pipelines. Hence, caution is warranted when performing thalamic connectivity-based segmentation for stereotacting targeting.