Beyond crossing fibers: bootstrap probabilistic tractography using complex subvoxel fiber geometries

Campbell JS, MomayyezSiahkal P, Savadjiev P, Leppert IR, Siddiqi K, Pike GB

Front Neurol 2014;5:216

PMID: 25389414


Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging fiber tractography is a powerful tool for investigating human white matter connectivity in vivo. However, it is prone to false positive and false negative results, making interpretation of the tractography result difficult. Optimal tractography must begin with an accurate description of the subvoxel white matter fiber structure, includes quantification of the uncertainty in the fiber directions obtained, and quantifies the confidence in each reconstructed fiber tract. This paper presents a novel and comprehensive pipeline for fiber tractography that meets the above requirements. The subvoxel fiber geometry is described in detail using a technique that allows not only for straight crossing fibers but for fibers that curve and splay. This technique is repeatedly performed within a residual bootstrap statistical process in order to efficiently quantify the uncertainty in the subvoxel geometries obtained. A robust connectivity index is defined to quantify the confidence in the reconstructed connections. The tractography pipeline is demonstrated in the human brain.