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Nico Sollmann, Anna Kelm, Sebastian Ille, Axel Schröder, Claus Zimmer, Florian Ringel, Bernhard Meyer and Sandro M. Krieg

OBJECTIVE

Awake surgery combined with intraoperative direct electrical stimulation (DES) and intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) is considered the gold standard for the resection of highly language-eloquent brain tumors. Different modalities, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) or magnetoencephalography (MEG), are commonly added as adjuncts for preoperative language mapping but have been shown to have relevant limitations. Thus, this study presents a novel multimodal setup consisting of preoperative navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) and nTMS-based diffusion tensor imaging fiber tracking (DTI FT) as an adjunct to awake surgery.

METHODS

Sixty consecutive patients (63.3% men, mean age 47.6 ± 13.3 years) suffering from highly language-eloquent left-hemispheric low- or high-grade glioma underwent preoperative nTMS language mapping and nTMS-based DTI FT, followed by awake surgery for tumor resection. Both nTMS language mapping and DTI FT data were available for resection planning and intraoperative guidance. Clinical outcome parameters, including craniotomy size, extent of resection (EOR), language deficits at different time points, Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score, duration of surgery, and inpatient stay, were assessed.

RESULTS

According to postoperative evaluation, 28.3% of patients showed tumor residuals, whereas new surgery-related permanent language deficits occurred in 8.3% of patients. KPS scores remained unchanged (median preoperative score 90, median follow-up score 90).

CONCLUSIONS

This is the first study to present a clinical outcome analysis of this very modern approach, which is increasingly applied in neurooncological centers worldwide. Although human language function is a highly complex and dynamic cortico-subcortical network, the presented approach offers excellent functional and oncological outcomes in patients undergoing surgery of lesions affecting this network.

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Nico Sollmann, Noémie Wildschuetz, Anna Kelm, Neal Conway, Tobias Moser, Lucia Bulubas, Jan S. Kirschke, Bernhard Meyer and Sandro M. Krieg

OBJECTIVE

Navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) and diffusion tensor imaging fiber tracking (DTI FT) based on nTMS data are increasingly used for preoperative planning and resection guidance in patients suffering from motor-eloquent brain tumors. The present study explores whether nTMS-based DTI FT can also be used for individual preoperative risk assessment regarding surgery-related motor impairment.

METHODS

Data derived from preoperative nTMS motor mapping and subsequent nTMS-based tractography in 86 patients were analyzed. All patients suffered from high-grade glioma (HGG), low-grade glioma (LGG), or intracranial metastasis (MET). In this context, nTMS-based DTI FT of the corticospinal tract (CST) was performed at a range of fractional anisotropy (FA) levels based on an individualized FA threshold ([FAT]; tracking with 50%, 75%, and 100% FAT), which was defined as the highest FA value allowing for visualization of fibers (100% FAT). Minimum lesion-to-CST distances were measured, and fiber numbers of the reconstructed CST were assessed. These data were then correlated with the preoperative, postoperative, and follow-up status of motor function and the resting motor threshold (rMT).

RESULTS

At certain FA levels, a statistically significant difference in lesion-to-CST distances was observed between patients with HGG who had no impairment and those who developed surgery-related transient or permanent motor deficits (75% FAT: p = 0.0149; 100% FAT: p = 0.0233). In this context, no patient with a lesion-to-CST distance ≥ 12 mm suffered from any new surgery-related permanent paresis (50% FAT and 75% FAT). Furthermore, comparatively strong negative correlations were observed between the rMT and lesion-to-CST distances of patients with surgery-related transient paresis (Spearman correlation coefficient [rs]; 50% FAT: rs = –0.8660; 75% FAT: rs = –0.8660) or surgery-related permanent paresis (50% FAT: rs = –0.7656; 75% FAT: rs = –0.6763).

CONCLUSIONS

This is one of the first studies to show a direct correlation between imaging, clinical status, and neurophysiological markers for the integrity of the motor system in patients with brain tumors. The findings suggest that nTMS-based DTI FT might be suitable for individual risk assessment in patients with HGG, in addition to being a surgery-planning tool. Importantly, necessary data for risk assessment were obtained without significant additional efforts, making this approach potentially valuable for direct clinical use.