Intraoperative brain mapping with neurocognitive monitoring during awake surgery is currently the standard pattern of care for patients with diffuse low-grade glioma (DLGG), allowing a maximization of the extent of resection (EOR) while preserving quality of life. This study evaluated the feasibility of DLGG resections performed with intraoperative cognitive monitoring via the assistance of a translator for patients speaking foreign languages, and compared the surgical functional and oncological outcomes according to the possibility of direct communication with the surgical team.
Foreign patients who underwent awake surgery with intraoperative electrical mapping with the assistance of a translator for the resection of a DLGG in the authors’ institution between January 2010 and December 2020 were included. Patients whose native language included one of the three languages spoken by the surgical team (i.e., French, English, or Spanish) were excluded. The patients were classified into two groups. Group 1 was composed of patients able to communicate in at least one of these three languages in addition to their own native language. Group 2 was composed of patients who spoke none of these languages, and therefore were unable to communicate directly with the operating staff. The primary outcome was the patients’ ability to return to work 3 months after surgery.
Eighty-four patients were included, of whom 63 were classified in group 1 and 21 in group 2. Eighteen different native languages were tested in the operating theater. Awake mapping was successful, with elicitation of transitory disturbances in all patients. There was no significant difference in the 3-month return-to-work status between the two groups (95% in group 1 [n = 58/61] vs 88% in group 2 [n = 15/17]; p = 0.298). Similarly, no significant difference between the two groups was found regarding the intraoperative tasks performed, the mean duration of the surgery, and the rate of permanent postoperative deficit. A significantly greater EOR was observed in group 1 patients in comparison to group 2 patients (90.4% ± 10.6% vs 87.7% ± 6.1%; p = 0.029).
Real-time translation by an interpreter during awake resection of glioma is feasible and safe in foreign patients. Nonetheless, when no direct verbal communication is possible between the surgical team and the patient, the EOR is less.