Awake surgery combined with intraoperative direct electrical stimulation (DES) and intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) is considered the gold standard for the resection of highly language-eloquent brain tumors. Different modalities, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) or magnetoencephalography (MEG), are commonly added as adjuncts for preoperative language mapping but have been shown to have relevant limitations. Thus, this study presents a novel multimodal setup consisting of preoperative navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) and nTMS-based diffusion tensor imaging fiber tracking (DTI FT) as an adjunct to awake surgery.
Sixty consecutive patients (63.3% men, mean age 47.6 ± 13.3 years) suffering from highly language-eloquent left-hemispheric low- or high-grade glioma underwent preoperative nTMS language mapping and nTMS-based DTI FT, followed by awake surgery for tumor resection. Both nTMS language mapping and DTI FT data were available for resection planning and intraoperative guidance. Clinical outcome parameters, including craniotomy size, extent of resection (EOR), language deficits at different time points, Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score, duration of surgery, and inpatient stay, were assessed.
According to postoperative evaluation, 28.3% of patients showed tumor residuals, whereas new surgery-related permanent language deficits occurred in 8.3% of patients. KPS scores remained unchanged (median preoperative score 90, median follow-up score 90).
This is the first study to present a clinical outcome analysis of this very modern approach, which is increasingly applied in neurooncological centers worldwide. Although human language function is a highly complex and dynamic cortico-subcortical network, the presented approach offers excellent functional and oncological outcomes in patients undergoing surgery of lesions affecting this network.