Presence of a translator in the operating theater for awake mapping in foreign patients with low-grade glioma: a surgical experience based on 18 different native languages

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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, Sainte Anne Military Hospital, Toulon;
  • 2 Department of Neurosurgery, Gui de Chauliac Hospital, Montpellier University Medical Center, Montpellier;
  • 3 Department of Speech-Language Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montpellier; and
  • 4 Team “Plasticity of Central Nervous System, Stem Cells and Glial Tumors,” INSERM U1191, Institute of Functional Genomics, University of Montpellier, France
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OBJECTIVE

Intraoperative brain mapping with neurocognitive monitoring during awake surgery is currently the standard pattern of care for patients with diffuse low-grade glioma (DLGG), allowing a maximization of the extent of resection (EOR) while preserving quality of life. This study evaluated the feasibility of DLGG resections performed with intraoperative cognitive monitoring via the assistance of a translator for patients speaking foreign languages, and compared the surgical functional and oncological outcomes according to the possibility of direct communication with the surgical team.

METHODS

Foreign patients who underwent awake surgery with intraoperative electrical mapping with the assistance of a translator for the resection of a DLGG in the authors’ institution between January 2010 and December 2020 were included. Patients whose native language included one of the three languages spoken by the surgical team (i.e., French, English, or Spanish) were excluded. The patients were classified into two groups. Group 1 was composed of patients able to communicate in at least one of these three languages in addition to their own native language. Group 2 was composed of patients who spoke none of these languages, and therefore were unable to communicate directly with the operating staff. The primary outcome was the patients’ ability to return to work 3 months after surgery.

RESULTS

Eighty-four patients were included, of whom 63 were classified in group 1 and 21 in group 2. Eighteen different native languages were tested in the operating theater. Awake mapping was successful, with elicitation of transitory disturbances in all patients. There was no significant difference in the 3-month return-to-work status between the two groups (95% in group 1 [n = 58/61] vs 88% in group 2 [n = 15/17]; p = 0.298). Similarly, no significant difference between the two groups was found regarding the intraoperative tasks performed, the mean duration of the surgery, and the rate of permanent postoperative deficit. A significantly greater EOR was observed in group 1 patients in comparison to group 2 patients (90.4% ± 10.6% vs 87.7% ± 6.1%; p = 0.029).

CONCLUSIONS

Real-time translation by an interpreter during awake resection of glioma is feasible and safe in foreign patients. Nonetheless, when no direct verbal communication is possible between the surgical team and the patient, the EOR is less.

ABBREVIATIONS ACTFL = American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages; DES = direct electrostimulation; DLGG = diffuse low-grade glioma; DO 80 = picture-naming task; EOR = extent of resection; PPTT = Pyramids and Palm Trees test.

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Hugues Duffau: Gui de Chauliac Hospital, Montpellier University Medical Center, Montpellier, France. h-duffau@chu-montpellier.fr.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online October 9, 2020; DOI: 10.3171/2020.6.JNS201071.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.

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