The importance of axonal directions in the brainstem injury during neurosurgical interventions

Faezeh Eskandari, Mehdi Shafieian, Mohammad M. Aghdam, Kaveh Laksari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Brainstem, which connects the distal part of the brain and the spinal cord, contains main motor and sensory nerves and facilitates communication between the cerebrum, cerebellum, and spinal cord. Due to the complicated anatomy and neurostructure of brainstem, surgical interventions to resect brainstem tumors are particularly challenging, and new approaches to reduce the risk of surgical brain injury are of utmost importance. Although previous studies have investigated the structural anisotropy of brain white matter, the effect of axonal fibers on the mechanical properties of white matter has not yet been fully understood. The current study aims to compare the effect of axonal orientation on changes in material properties of brainstem under large deformations and failure through a novel approach. Using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) on ex-vivo bovine brains, we determined the orientation of axons in brainstem. We extracted brainstem samples in two orthogonal directions, parallel and perpendicular to the axons, and subjected to uniaxial tension to reach the failure at loading rates of 50 mm/min and 150 mm/min. The results showed that the tearing energy and failure strain of samples with axons parallel to the force direction were approximately 1.5 times higher than the samples with axons perpendicular to the force direction. The results also revealed that as the sample's initial length increases, its failure strain decreases. These results emphasize the importance of the axon orientation in the mechanical properties of brainstem, and suggest that considering the directional-dependent behavior for this tissue could help to propose new surgical interventions for reducing the risk of injury during tumor resection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1271-1276
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Anisotropy
  • Brainstem
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Surgical induced injury
  • Tissue failure
  • Toughness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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