Function-specific Tractography of Language Pathways Based on nTMS Mapping in Patients with Supratentorial Lesions

Nico Sollmann, Haosu Zhang, Severin Schramm, Sebastian Ille, Chiara Negwer, Kornelia Kreiser, Bernhard Meyer, Sandro M. Krieg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose: In patients with supratentorial lesions diffusion tensor imaging fiber tracking (DTI-FT) is increasingly used to visualize subcortical fiber courses. Navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) was applied in this study to reveal specific cortical functions by investigating the particular language errors elicited by stimulation. To make DTI-FT more function-specific, the identified language-positive nTMS spots were used as regions of interest (ROIs). Methods: In this study 40 patients (mean age 53.8 ± 16.0 years) harboring language-eloquent left hemispheric lesions underwent preoperative nTMS language mapping. All induced error categories were separately defined as a ROI and used for function-specific nTMS-based DTI-FT. The fractions of patients showing various subcortical language-related pathways and the fibers-per-tract ratio (number of visualized fibers divided by the number of visualized tracts) were evaluated and compared for tractography with the single error types against less specific tractography including all identified cortical language sites (all errors except hesitations). Results: The nTMS-based DTI-FT using all errors except hesitations led to high fractions of visualized tracts (81.1% of patients), with a fibers-per-tract ratio of 538.4 ± 340.5. When only using performance errors, a predominant visualization of the superior longitudinal fascicle (SLF) occurred, which is known to be involved in articulatory processes. Fibers-per-tract ratios were comparatively stable for all single error categories when compared to all errors except hesitations (p > 0.05). Conclusion: This is one of the first studies aiming on function-specific tractography. The results demonstrated that when using different error categories as ROIs, more detailed nTMS-based DTI-FT and, therefore, potentially superior intraoperative guidance becomes possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-135
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Neuroradiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Fiber tracking
  • Glioma
  • Navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Preoperative imaging


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