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Alexander A. Aabedi, Sofia Kakaizada, Jacob S. Young, EunSeon Ahn, Daniel H. Weissman, Mitchel S. Berger, David Brang, and Shawn L. Hervey-Jumper

OBJECTIVE

Intraoperative tasks for awake language mapping are typically selected based on the language tracts that will likely be encountered during tumor resection. However, diminished attention and arousal secondary to perioperative sedatives may reduce a task’s usefulness for identifying eloquent cortex. For instance, accuracy in performing select language tasks may be high preoperatively but decline in the operating room. In the present study, the authors sought to identify language tasks that can be performed with high accuracy in both situational contexts so the neurosurgical team can be confident that speech errors committed during awake language mapping result from direct cortical stimulation to eloquent cortex, rather than from poor performance in general.

METHODS

We administered five language tasks to 44 patients: picture naming (PN), text reading (TR), auditory object naming (AN), repetition of 4-syllable words (4SYL), and production of syntactically intact sentences (SYNTAX). Performance was assessed using the 4-point scale of the quick aphasia battery 24 hours preoperatively and intraoperatively. We next determined whether or not accuracy on each task was higher preoperatively than intraoperatively. We also determined whether 1) intraoperative accuracy on a given task predicted intraoperative performance on the other tasks and 2) low preoperative accuracy on a task predicted a decrease in accuracy intraoperatively.

RESULTS

Relative to preoperative accuracy, intraoperative accuracy declined on PN (3.90 vs 3.82, p = 0.0001), 4SYL (3.96 vs 3.91, p = 0.0006), and SYNTAX (3.85 vs 3.67, p = 0.0001) but not on TR (3.96 vs 3.94, p = 0.13) or AN (3.70 vs 3.58, p = 0.058). Intraoperative accuracy on PN and AN independently predicted intraoperative accuracy on the remaining language tasks (p < 0.001 and p < 0.01, respectively). Finally, low preoperative accuracy on SYNTAX predicted a decrease in accuracy on this task intraoperatively (R = 0.36, p = 0.00002).

CONCLUSIONS

While TR lacks sensitivity in identifying language deficits at baseline, accuracy on TR is stable across testing settings. Baseline accuracy on the other four of our five language tasks was not predictive of intraoperative performance, signifying the need to repeat language tests prior to stimulation mapping to confirm reliability.

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Alexander A. Aabedi, EunSeon Ahn, Sofia Kakaizada, Claudia Valdivia, Jacob S. Young, Heather Hervey-Jumper, Eric Zhang, Oren Sagher, Daniel H. Weissman, David Brang, and Shawn L. Hervey-Jumper

OBJECTIVE

Maximal safe tumor resection in language areas of the brain relies on a patient’s ability to perform intraoperative language tasks. Assessing the performance of these tasks during awake craniotomies allows the neurosurgeon to identify and preserve brain regions that are critical for language processing. However, receiving sedation and analgesia just prior to experiencing an awake craniotomy may reduce a patient’s wakefulness, leading to transient language and/or cognitive impairments that do not completely subside before language testing begins. At present, the degree to which wakefulness influences intraoperative language task performance is unclear. Therefore, the authors sought to determine whether any of 5 brief measures of wakefulness predicts such performance during awake craniotomies for glioma resection.

METHODS

The authors recruited 21 patients with dominant hemisphere low- and high-grade gliomas. Each patient performed baseline wakefulness measures in addition to picture-naming and text-reading language tasks 24 hours before undergoing an awake craniotomy. The patients performed these same tasks again in the operating room following the cessation of anesthesia medications. The authors then conducted statistical analyses to investigate potential relationships between wakefulness measures and language task performance.

RESULTS

Relative to baseline, performance on 3 of the 4 objective wakefulness measures (rapid counting, button pressing, and vigilance) declined in the operating room. Moreover, these declines appeared in the complete absence of self-reported changes in arousal. Performance on language tasks similarly declined in the intraoperative setting, with patients experiencing greater declines in picture naming than in text reading. Finally, performance declines on rapid counting and vigilance wakefulness tasks predicted performance declines on the picture-naming task.

CONCLUSIONS

Current subjective methods for assessing wakefulness during awake craniotomies may be insufficient. The administration of objective measures of wakefulness just prior to language task administration may help to ensure that patients are ready for testing. It may also allow neurosurgeons to identify patients who are at risk for poor intraoperative performance.