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Brain Structural Connectivity Distinguishes Patients At Risk For Cognitive Decline After Carotid Interventions

S. Soman, Gautam Prasad, E. Hitchner, P. Massaband, M. Moseley, W. Zhou, A. Rosen
Published 2016 · Medicine, Psychology

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While brain connectivity analyses have been demonstrated to identify ill patients for a number of diseases, their ability to predict cognitive impairment after brain injury is not well established. Traditional post brain injury models, such as stroke, are limited for this evaluation because pre‐injury brain connectivity patterns are infrequently available. Patients with severe carotid stenosis, in contrast, often undergo non‐emergent revascularization surgery, allowing the collection of pre and post‐operative imaging, may experience brain insult due to perioperative thrombotic/embolic infarcts or hypoperfusion, and can suffer post‐operative cognitive decline. We hypothesized that a distributed function such as memory would be more resilient in patients with brains demonstrating higher degrees of modularity. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed preoperative structural connectivity graphs (using T1 and DWI MRI) for 34 patients that underwent carotid intervention, and evaluated differences in graph metrics using the Brain Connectivity Toolbox. We found that patients with lower binary component number, binary community number and weighted community number prior to surgery were at greater risk for developing cognitive decline. These findings highlight the promise of brain connectivity analyses to predict cognitive decline following brain injury and serve as a clinical decision support tool. Hum Brain Mapp 37:2185–2194, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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