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Presurgical language mapping in bilingual children using transcranial magnetic stimulation: illustrative case

Savannah K. Gibbs, Stephen Fulton, Basanagoud Mudigoudar, Frederick A. Boop, and Shalini Narayana


Presurgical mapping of eloquent cortex in young patients undergoing neurosurgery is critical but presents challenges unique to the pediatric population, including motion artifact, noncompliance, and sedation requirements. Furthermore, as bilingualism in children increases, functional mapping of more than one language is becoming increasingly critical. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive brain stimulation technique, is well suited to evaluate language areas in children since it does not require the patient to remain still during mapping.


A 13-year-old bilingual male with glioblastoma multiforme involving the left parietal lobe and deep occipital white matter underwent preoperative language mapping using magnetic resonance imaging-guided TMS. Language-specific cortices were successfully identified in both hemispheres. TMS findings aided in discussing with the family the risks of postsurgical deficits of tumor resection; postoperatively, the patient had intact bilingual speech and was referred for chemotherapy and radiation.


The authors’ findings add to the evolving case for preoperative dual language mapping in bilingual neurosurgical candidates. The authors illustrate the feasibility and utility of TMS as a noninvasive functional mapping tool in this child. TMS is safe, effective, and can be used for preoperative mapping of language cortex in bilingual children to aid in surgical planning and discussion with families.