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Central auditory pathways study using Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Abstract : Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is a common functional disorder in humans. Besides clinical investigations, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the modality of choice to explore the central auditory pathways. Indeed, new MRI sequences and postprocessing methods have revolutionized our understanding of inner ear and brain disorders.The inner ear is the organ of sound detection and balance. Within the inner ear, there are two distinct compartments filled with endolymph and perilymph.The accumulation of endolymph fluid is called “endolymphatic hydrops”. Endolymphatic hydrops may occur as a consequence of a variety of disorders, including Meniere’s Disease, immune-mediated diseases or internal auditory canal tumors.Previous classification for grading the amount of endolymph liquid using MRI has proposed a global semi-quantitative evaluation, without distinguishing the utricle from the saccule, whose biomechanical properties are different in terms of compliance.This work had two main objectives: 1°) to better characterize the role of endolymphatic hydrops in SNHL occurrence; 2°) to study secondary auditory pathways alterations.Part 1: Understanding the role and pathophysiology of endolymphatic hydrops in SNHL occurrence.Endolymphatic hydrops can be identified using MRI, acquired 4-6-hours after injection of contrast media. This work has demonstrated the feasibility and improved this technique in a clinical setting.Using optimized morphological sequences, we were able to illustrate inner ear microanatomy based on temporal bone dissection, and to distinguish the saccule and the utricle.In accordance with a multi-compartmental model, we observed that the saccular hydrops was a specific biomarker of low-tone SNHL in the context of typical or atypical forms of Meniere’s Disease. In addition, utricular hydrops was linked to the degree of hearing loss in patients with schwannomas. We raise the hypothesis that both saccule and utricle compartment play the role of a buffer in endolymph reabsorption. When their compliance is overstretched, inner ear endolymph regulation fails, subsequently leading to cochlear lesions such as loss of the shorter stereocilia of the hair cells, as suggested by experimental animal modelsThus, we were able to prove the high prevalence of endolymphatic hydrops in patients with SNHL.Part 2: Development of new imaging biomarkers to study the central auditory pathways.Diffusion-Weighted Imaging play a crucial role because it can help to assess the intracellular compartment by displaying the Brownian movements of water molecules. In the context of cochlear lesions, anterograde axonal degeneration has only been demonstrated in animal models. In the context of retrocochlear lesions, no MRI sequences have previously showed efficiency in distinguishing the cochlear from the facial nerve. This is crucial for safe surgery procedure.We have designed optimized postprocessing tools to explore SNHL patients with High-Angular Resolution DWI acquisition. We have included in the clinical setting software tools for B0 and B1 bias field artifacts’ correction, Denoising process, Gibbs artifacts’ correction, Susceptibility and Eddy Current artifacts management.The ultimate goal was to properly study the Fiber Orientation Distribution (FOD) along the auditory pathways in case-controlled studies, using top-of-the-art methods of fixels analysis and a newly developed toolbox with Machine Learning analysis of the Diffusion signal.We have studied reproducibility of these two methods on Multi-Shell Diffusion gradient scheme by test-retest procedure. We have then used the fixel method to seek for auditory pathways alterations in Meniere’s Disease and Machine Learning automatic analyses to extract Inner Auditory Canal cranial nerves.Thus, we have developed a new method for cranial nerves’ tractography using FOD spectral clustering, efficient in terms of computer requirement and in tumor condition.
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Arnaud Attyé. Central auditory pathways study using Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Biotechnology. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018GREAS044⟩. ⟨tel-02448275⟩

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