Mapping the trigeminal root entry zone and its pontine fibre distribution patterns
SourceCephalalgia, 40, 14, (2020), pp. 1645-1656
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
INTRODUCTION: Recently, an additional trigeminothalamic tract - the dorsal trigeminothalamic tract - has been described in human brainstems by our group next to the known ventral trigeminothalamic tract. As various elements of the trigeminal system are known to be organised in a somatotopic fashion, the question arose whether the fibres within the trigeminal root show specific distributions patterns in their contribution to the ventral trigeminothalamic tract and dorsal trigeminothalamic tract specifically. METHODS: This study investigated the arrangement of the fibres in the trigeminal root by combining various imaging methods in the pons of 11 post-mortem specimens. The pons were investigated by polarised light imaging (PLI) (n = 4; to quantify fibre orientation; 100 microm interslice distance), histochemical staining methods (n = 3; to visualise the internal myeloarchitecture; 60 microm) and ultra-high field, post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (n = 4; for tractography; 500 microm interslice distance). RESULTS: This study shows that the fibres, from the point where the trigeminal root enters the brainstem, are distinctly arranged by their contribution to the ventral trigeminothalamic tract and dorsal trigeminothalamic tract. This finding is supported by both post-mortem, ultra-high dMRI and different light microscopy techniques. CONCLUSION: The data from this study suggest that the fibres in the superior half of the root contribute mainly to the ventral trigeminothalamic tract, whereas the fibres in the inferior half mainly contribute to the dorsal trigeminothalamic tract. Such a somatotopic organisation could possibly create new insights into the anatomical origin of trigeminal neuralgia and the clinical relevance of this somatotopic organisation should therefore be further explored.
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