Although the parietal lobe is a common site for glioma formation, current literature is scarce, consists of retrospective studies, and lacks consistency with regard to the incidence, nature, and severity of parietal association deficits (PADs). The aim of this study was to assess the characteristics and incidence of PADs in patients suffering from parietal lobe gliomas through a prospective study and a battery of comprehensive neuropsychological tests.
Between 2012 and 2016 the authors recruited 38 patients with glioma confined in the parietal lobe. Patients were examined for primary and secondary association deficits with a dedicated battery of neuropsychological tests. The PADs were grouped into 5 categories: visuospatial attention, gnosis, praxis, upper-limb coordination, and language. For descriptive analysis tumors were divided into high- and low-grade gliomas and also according to patient age and tumor size.
Parietal association deficits were elicited in 80% of patients, thus being more common than primary deficits (50%). Apraxia was the most common PAD (47.4%), followed by anomic aphasia and subcomponents of Gerstmann’s syndrome (34.2% each). Other deficits such as hemineglect, stereoagnosia, extinction, and visuomotor ataxia were also detected, albeit at lower rates. There was a statistically nonsignificant difference between PADs and sex (72.2% males, 85% females) and age (77.8% at ≤ 60 years, 80% at age > 60 years), but a statistically significant difference between the > 4 cm and the ≤ 4 cm diameter group (p = 0.02, 94.7% vs 63.2%, respectively). There was a tendency (p = 0.094) for low-grade gliomas to present with fewer PADs (50%) than high-grade gliomas (85.7%). Tumor laterality showed a strong correlation with hemineglect (p = 0.004, predilection for right hemisphere), anomia (p = 0.001), and Gerstmann’s symptoms (p = 0.01); the last 2 deficits showed a left (dominant) hemispheric preponderance.
This is the first study to prospectively evaluate the incidence and nature of PADs in patients with parietal gliomas. It could be that the current literature may have underestimated the true incidence of deficits. Dedicated neuropsychological examination detects a high frequency of PADs, the most common being apraxia, followed by anomia and subcomponents of Gerstmann’s syndrome. Nevertheless, a direct correlation between the clinical deficit and its anatomical substrate is only possible to a limited extent, highlighting the need for intraoperative cortical and subcortical functional mapping.