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Richard Leblanc, Ernst Meyer, Robert Zatorre, Denise Klein and Alan Evans

Functional brain imaging is poised to become a standard diagnostic tool. The authors review their experience using functional positron emission tomography (fPET) in patients with cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).

Twelve patients, three males and nine females aged 16 to 30 years, 11 with a cerebral AVM and one with a cavernous angioma, of which five were located in the central area and seven in a speech region, underwent fPET and three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging. These studies were coregistered in stereotactic space and correlated to Brodmann's areas that were identified from the atlas of Talairach and Tournoux. Vibrotactile and/or motor stimulation of the contralateral hand were used to identify the central region in patients whose AVM resided within, or close to, the motor strip, and language tasks specifically designed to activate visual, auditory, expressive, or semantic language were used in patients whose AVM resided within, or close to, Broca's or Wernicke's areas.

Somatosensory and motor activation reliably identified the central region in all cases as validated by identification of Brodmann's areas and by intraoperative cortical mapping, which was performed with the patient under local anesthesia. Similarly, language tasks accurately lateralized major language function to one hemisphere concordantly with neuropsychological assessment, including dichotic listening and intracarotid Amytal tests, and localized language areas appropriately as verified by stereotactic coordinates.

Functional cerebral imaging is feasible in patients with structural brain lesions. It is a reliable method to identify the relationship of a cerebral AVM to the central region. The determination of a similar relationship to language areas is dependent on the development and further validation of language-based tasks designed to activate visual, auditory, expressive, and semantic aspects of language specific to particular sites within the anterior and posterior speech regions.