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    Kathleen J. Helton, MD

    Kathleen J. Helton, MD

    Better images of tumors around nerves

    St. Jude researchers have shown that a technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) provides significantly improved images, as compared with conventional MRI imaging, for evaluation of tumor involvement in nerve tracts in children with certain brain tumors.

    A report on the use of DTI to study the extent to which a type of tumor called pontine glioma involves the motor, sensory and transverse pontine nerve fiber tracts appears in the April issue of the American Journal of Neuroradiology. Pontine tumors arise in a part of the brain stem called the pons.

    DTI captures information about water diffusion within fiber tracts. The technique allows clinicians to characterize nearby nerve tracts; and it provides colorful images of the brain that show the relationship of the tumor to the tracts of interest. “These powerful tools may be useful for guiding surgical biopsies and show promise of providing quantitative measures of risk stratification, prognosis and treatment response,” said the paper’s first author, Kathleen Helton, MD, Radiological Sciences.

    The researchers say that their study is the first to evaluate the use of DTI in pediatric patients with diffuse (infiltrating) and focal (restricted in area) pontine tumors compared to the “normal” brainstem.

    “The ability to differentiate the two types of tumors is important because both the treatment and prognosis for diffuse and focal pontine tumors are significantly different,” Helton said.

    Other St. Jude authors of this paper include Nicholas Phillips, Raja Khan, MD, Ping Zou and Robert Ogg, PhD, Radiological Sciences; Chin-Shang Li, PhD, Biostatistics; and Rick Boop, MD, and Robert Sanford, MD, Neurosurgery.


    Last update: May 2006