Perfusion-dependent brain mapping modalities, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, and optical imaging of intrinsic signals, have become increasingly popular for neurosurgical guidance because they offer a relatively rapid and noninvasive means of mapping brain function. These modalities are unique because they rely on perfusion-related signals that are coupled with neuronal activity to map the brain instead of measuring electrophysiological responses. They consequently present unique challenges to the clinician in terms of understanding the significance and limitations of the maps they produce. In particular, one must be aware of limitations of the modalities with respect to spatial specificity, sensitivity, and reliability of these maps and how the presence of intracranial lesions may further complicate these issues.
The authors review the evolution, interpretation, and limitations of perfusion-based brain mapping techniques, with special attention to clinical implications of the brain maps.