The potential loss of motor function after cerebral hemispherectomy is a common cause of anguish for patients, their families, and their physicians. The deficits these patients face are individually unique, but as a whole they provide a framework to understand the mechanisms underlying cortical reorganization of motor function. This study investigated whether preoperative functional MRI (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) could predict the postoperative preservation of hand motor function.
Thirteen independent reviewers analyzed sensorimotor fMRI and colored fractional anisotropy (CoFA)–DTI maps in 25 patients undergoing functional hemispherectomy for treatment of intractable seizures. Pre- and postoperative gross hand motor function were categorized and correlated with fMRI and DTI findings, specifically, abnormally located motor activation on fMRI and corticospinal tract atrophy on DTI.
Normal sensorimotor cortical activation on preoperative fMRI was significantly associated with severe decline in postoperative motor function, demonstrating 92.9% sensitivity (95% CI 0.661–0.998) and 100% specificity (95% CI 0.715–1.00). Bilaterally robust, symmetric corticospinal tracts on CoFA-DTI maps were significantly associated with severe postoperative motor decline, demonstrating 85.7% sensitivity (95% CI 0.572–0.982) and 100% specificity (95% CI 0.715–1.00). Interpreting the fMR images, the reviewers achieved a Fleiss’ kappa coefficient (κ) for interrater agreement of κ = 0.69, indicating good agreement (p < 0.01). When interpreting the CoFA-DTI maps, the reviewers achieved κ = 0.64, again indicating good agreement (p < 0.01).
Functional hemispherectomy offers a high potential for seizure freedom without debilitating functional deficits in certain instances. Patients likely to retain preoperative motor function can be identified prior to hemispherectomy, where fMRI or DTI suggests that cortical reorganization of motor function has occurred prior to the operation.