Purpose: The peripheral course of the trigeminal nerves is complex and spans multiple bony foramen and tissue compartments throughout the face. Diffusion tensor imaging of these nerves is difficult due to the complex tissue interfaces and relatively low MR signal. The purpose of this work is to develop a method for reliable diffusion tensor imaging-based fiber tracking of the peripheral branches of the trigeminal nerve. Methods: We prospectively acquired imaging data from six healthy adult participants with a 3.0-Tesla system, including T2-weighted short tau inversion recovery with variable flip angle (T2-STIR-SPACE) and readout segmented echo planar diffusion weighted imaging sequences. Probabilistic tractography of the ophthalmic, infraorbital, lingual, and inferior alveolar nerves was performed manually and assessed by two observers who determined whether the fiber tracts reached defined anatomical landmarks using the T2-STIR-SPACE volume. Results: All nerves in all subjects were tracked beyond the trigeminal ganglion. Tracts in the inferior alveolar and ophthalmic nerve exhibited the strongest signal and most consistently reached the most distal landmark (58% and 67%, respectively). All tracts of the inferior alveolar and ophthalmic nerve extended beyond their respective third benchmarks. Tracts of the infraorbital nerve and lingual nerve were comparably lower-signal and did not consistently reach the furthest benchmarks (9% and 17%, respectively). Conclusion: This work demonstrates a method for consistently identifying and tracking the major nerve branches of the trigeminal nerve with diffusion tensor imaging.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by NIBIB P41 EB027061 and P30 NS076408. Personnel performing this research were also supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, grants TL1R002493 and UL1TR002494. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.
- Cranial nerves
- Diffusion tensor imaging
- Trigeminal nerve
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article