Structure tensor informed fibre tractography (STIFT) based on informing tractography for diffusion-weighted images at 3T and by utilising the structure tensor obtained from gradient-recalled echo (GRE) images at 7T is able to delineate fibres when seed voxels are placed close to the fibre boundaries. However, incorporating data from two different field strengths limits the applicability of STIFT. In this study, STIFT was implemented with both diffusion-weighted images and GRE images acquired at 3T. Instead of using the magnitude GRE data directly for STIFT as in the previous work, the utility of T2* maps and quantitative susceptibility maps derived from complex-valued GRE data to improve fibre delineation was explored. Single-seed tractography was performed and the results show that the optic radiation reconstructed with STIFT is more distinguishable from the inferior longitudinal fasciculus/inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus complex when compared to standard diffusion-weighted imaging tractography. We further investigated the quantitative effects of STIFT in a group of five healthy volunteers and evaluated its impact on measures of structural connectivity. The framework was extended to evaluate implementations of STIFT based on T2*-weighted and quantitative susceptibility-weighted images in a whole-brain connectivity study. In terms of connectivity, no systematic differences were found between STIFT and diffusion-weighted imaging tractography, suggesting that local improvements in tractography are not translated to the atlas-based structural connectivity analysis. Nevertheless, the reduction in the number of statistically significant connections in the STIFT connectivity matrix suggests that STIFT can potentially reduce the false-positive connections in fibre tractography.
- Optic radiation, quantitative susceptibility mapping
- Structural connectivity
- Diffusion weighted imaging