Brain metastases occur in 10% to 40% of patients harboring cancer. In cases of neurosurgical metastasis resection, all postoperative neurological deterioration should be avoided. Reasons for postoperative deficits can be direct tissue damage due to resection, hemorrhage, venous congestive infarcts, or arterial ischemic events leading to tissue infarction. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether postoperative ischemic infarctions occur in surgery for brain metastasis and to determine their influence on new postoperative neurological deficits.
Patients who underwent resection of brain metastases and had preoperative and early postoperative (within 48 hours) MRI scans, including diffusion-weighted imaging sequences and apparent diffusion coefficient maps, between January 2009 and May 2012 were included in this study. Clinical and histopathological data (histopathological results, pre- and postoperative neurological status, and previous tumor-specific therapy) were recorded.
One hundred twenty-two patients (56 male, 66 female) who underwent resection of brain metastases were included. The patients' mean age was 60 years (range 21–89 years). The mean time span from initial tumor diagnosis to resection of brain metastasis was 44 months (range 0–338 months). The mean preoperative Karnofsky Performance Status was 80% (exact mean 76% ± 17% [SD]), and the mean postoperative value was 80% (exact mean 78% ± 17%). Twelve (9.8%) of the 122 patients had postoperative permanent worsening of a neurological deficit or a new permanent neurological deficit; 44 (36.1%) of the 122 patients had postoperative ischemic lesions. When comparing patients with and without previous brain irradiation, 53.8% of patients with previous brain irradiation had ischemic lesions on postoperative imaging compared with 31.3% of patients without previous brain irradiation (p = 0.033). There was a significant association between ischemia and postoperative neurological status deterioration (transient or permanent); 13 (29.5%) of 44 patients with ischemic lesions had deterioration of their neurological status compared with 7 (9%) of the 78 patients who did not have ischemic lesions (p = 0.003).
This study demonstrates a high prevalence of vascular incidents in patients undergoing resection for metastatic brain disease. Patients harboring postoperative ischemic lesions detected by MRI have a higher rate of neurological deficits (transient or permanent). Patients who had previous irradiation therapy are at higher risk of developing postoperative ischemic lesions. A large number of postoperative neurological deficits are caused by ischemic incidents.