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  • Author or Editor: Gabriele Schackert x
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Stephan B. Sobottka, Tobias Meyer, Matthias Kirsch, Edmund Koch, Ralf Steinmeier, Ute Morgenstern and Gabriele Schackert


Intraoperative optical imaging (IOI) is an experimental technique used for visualizing functional brain areas after surgical exposure of the cerebral cortex. This technique identifies areas of local changes in blood volume and oxygenation caused by stimulation of specific brain functions. The authors describe a new IOI method, including innovative data analysis, that can facilitate intraoperative functional imaging on a routine basis. To evaluate the reliability and validity of this approach, they used the new IOI method to demonstrate visualization of the median nerve area of the somatosensory cortex.


In 41 patients with tumor lesions adjacent to the postcentral gyrus, lesions were surgically removed by using IOI during stimulation of the contralateral median nerve. Optical properties of the cortical tissue were measured with a sensitive camera system connected to a surgical microscope. Imaging was performed by using 9 cycles of alternating prolonged stimulation and rest periods of 30 seconds. Intraoperative optical imaging was based on blood volume changes detected by using a filter at an isosbestic wavelength (λ = 568 nm). A spectral analysis algorithm was used to improve computation of the activity maps. Movement artifacts were compensated for by an elastic registration algorithm. For validation, intraoperative conduction of the phase reversal over the central sulcus and postoperative evaluation of the craniotomy site were used.


The new method and analysis enabled significant differentiation (p < 0.005) between functional and nonfunctional tissue. The identification and visualization of functionally intact somatosensory cortex was highly reliable; sensitivity was 94.4% and specificity was almost 100%. The surgeon was provided with a 2D high-resolution activity map within 12 minutes. No method-related side effects occurred in any of the 41 patients.


The authors' new approach makes IOI a contact-free and label-free optical technique that can be used safely in a routine clinical setup. Intraoperative optical imaging can be used as an alternative to other methods for the identification of sensory cortex areas and offers the added benefit of a high-resolution map of functional activity. It has great potential for visualizing and monitoring additional specific functional brain areas such as the visual, motor, and speech cortex. A prospective national multicenter clinical trial is currently being planned.

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Martin Oelschlägel, Tobias Meyer, Ute Morgenstern, Hannes Wahl, Johannes Gerber, Gilfe Reiß, Edmund Koch, Gerald Steiner, Matthias Kirsch, Gabriele Schackert and Stephan B. Sobottka

Intraoperative optical imaging (IOI) is a marker-free, contactless, and noninvasive imaging technique that is able to visualize metabolic changes of the brain surface following neuronal activation. Although it has been used in the past mainly for the identification of functional brain areas under general anesthesia, the authors investigated the potential of the method during awake surgery. Measurements were performed in 10 patients who underwent resection of lesions within or adjacent to cortical language or motor sites. IOI was applied in 3 different scenarios: identification of motor areas by using finger-tapping tasks, identification of language areas by using speech tasks (overt and silent speech), and a novel approach—the application of IOI as a feedback tool during direct electrical stimulation (DES) mapping of language. The functional maps, which were calculated from the IOI data (activity maps), were qualitatively compared with the functional MRI (fMRI) and the electrophysiological testing results during the surgical procedure to assess their potential benefit for surgical decision-making.

The results reveal that the intraoperative identification of motor sites with IOI in good agreement with the preoperatively acquired fMRI and the intraoperative electrophysiological measurements is possible. Because IOI provides spatially highly resolved maps with minimal additional hardware effort, the application of the technique for motor site identification seems to be beneficial in awake procedures. The identification of language processing sites with IOI was also possible, but in the majority of cases significant differences between fMRI, IOI, and DES were visible, and therefore according to the authors’ findings the IOI results are too unspecific to be useful for intraoperative decision-making with respect to exact language localization. For this purpose, DES mapping will remain the method of choice.

Nevertheless, the IOI technique can provide additional value during the language mapping procedure with DES. Using a simple difference imaging approach, the authors were able to visualize and calculate the spatial extent of activation for each stimulation. This might enable surgeons in the future to optimize the mapping process. Additionally, differences between tumor and nontumor stimulation sites were observed with respect to the spatial extent of the changes in cortical optical properties. These findings provide further evidence that the method allows the assessment of the functional state of neurovascular coupling and is therefore suited for the delineation of pathologically altered tissue.