In adults, navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) has been established as a preoperative examination method for brain tumors in motor- and language-eloquent locations. However, the clinical relevance of nTMS in children with brain tumors is still unclear. Here, the authors present their initial experience with nTMS-based surgical planning and family counseling in pediatric cases.
The authors analyzed the feasibility of nTMS and its influence on counseling and surgical strategy in a prospective study conducted between July 2017 and September 2019. The main inclusion criterion was a potential benefit from functional mapping data derived from nTMS and/or nTMS-enhanced tractography in pediatric patients who presented to the authors’ department prior to surgery for lesions close to motor- and/or speech-eloquent areas. The study was undertaken in 14 patients (median age 7 years, 8 males) who presented with different brain lesions.
Motor mapping combined with cortical seed area definition could be performed in 10 children (71%) to identify the corticospinal tract by additional diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). All motor mappings could be performed successfully without inducing relevant side effects. In 7 children, nTMS language mapping was performed to detect language-relevant cortical areas and DTI fiber tractography was performed to visualize the individual language network. nTMS examination was not possible in 4 children because of lack of compliance (n = 2), syncope (n = 1), and preexisting implant (n = 1). After successful mapping, the spatial relation between lesion and functional tissue was used for surgical planning in all 10 patients, and 9 children underwent nTMS-DTI integrated neuronavigation. No surgical complications or unexpected neurological deterioration was observed. In all successful nTMS cases, better function-based counseling was offered to the families. In 6 of 10 patients the surgical strategy was adapted according to nTMS data, and in 6 of 10 cases the extent of resection (EOR) was redefined.
nTMS and DTI fiber tracking were feasible for the majority of children. Presurgical counseling as well as surgical planning for the approach and EOR were improved by the nTMS examination results. nTMS in combination with DTI fiber tracking can be regarded as beneficial for neurosurgical procedures in eloquent areas in the pediatric population.