Gliomas are intrinsic brain tumors with the hallmark of diffuse white matter infiltration, resulting in short- and long-range network dysfunction. Preoperative magnetoencephalography (MEG) can assist in maximizing the extent of resection while minimizing morbidity. While MEG has been validated in motor mapping, its role in speech mapping remains less well studied. The authors assessed how the resection of intraoperative electrical stimulation (IES)–negative, high functional connectivity (HFC) network sites, as identified by MEG, impacts language performance.
Resting-state, whole-brain MEG recordings were obtained from 26 patients who underwent perioperative language evaluation and glioma resection that was guided by awake language and IES mapping. The functional connectivity of an individual voxel was determined by the imaginary coherence between the index voxel and the rest of the brain, referenced to its contralesional pair. The percentage of resected HFC voxels was correlated with postoperative language outcomes in tasks of increasing complexity: text reading, 4-syllable repetition, picture naming, syntax (SYN), and auditory stimulus naming (AN).
Overall, 70% of patients (14/20) in whom any HFC tissue was resected developed an early postoperative language deficit (mean 2.3 days, range 1–8 days), compared to 33% of patients (2/6) in whom no HFC tissue was resected (p = 0.16). When bifurcated by the amount of HFC tissue that was resected, 100% of patients (3/3) with an HFC resection > 25% displayed deficits in AN, compared to 30% of patients (6/20) with an HFC resection < 25% (p = 0.04). Furthermore, there was a linear correlation between the severity of AN and SYN decline with percentage of HFC sites resected (p = 0.02 and p = 0.04, respectively). By 2.2 months postoperatively (range 1–6 months), the correlation between HFC resection and both AN and SYN decline had resolved (p = 0.94 and p = 1.00, respectively) in all patients (9/9) except two who experienced early postoperative tumor progression or stroke involving inferior frontooccipital fasciculus.
Imaginary coherence measures of functional connectivity using MEG are able to identify HFC network sites within and around low- and high-grade gliomas. Removal of IES-negative HFC sites results in early transient postoperative decline in AN and SYN, which resolved by 3 months in all patients without stroke or early tumor progression. Measures of functional connectivity may therefore be a useful means of counseling patients about postoperative risk and assist with preoperative surgical planning.