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Jan Coburger, Jari Karhu, Markus Bittl and Nikolai J. Hopf

Preoperative functional mapping in children younger than 5 years old remains a challenge. Awake functional MRI (fMRI) is usually not an option for these patients. Except for a description of passive fMRI in sedated patients and magnetoencephalography, no other noninvasive mapping method has been reported as a preoperative diagnostic tool in children. Therefore, invasive intraoperative direct cortical stimulation remains the method of choice. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first case of a young child undergoing preoperative functional motor cortex mapping with the aid of navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS).

In this 3-year-old boy with a rolandic ganglioglioma, awake preoperative mapping was performed using nTMS. A precise location of Broca area 4 could be established. The surgical approach was planned according to the preoperative findings. Intraoperative direct cortical stimulation verified the location of the nTMS hotspots, and complete resection of the precentral tumor was achieved.

Navigated TMS is a precise tool for preoperative motor cortex mapping and is feasible even in very young pediatric patients. In children for whom performing the fMRI motor paradigm is challenging, nTMS is the only available option for functional mapping.

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Jan Coburger, Jens Engelke, Angelika Scheuerle, Dietmar R. Thal, Michal Hlavac, Christian Rainer Wirtz and Ralph König


High-grade gliomas (HGGs) and metastasis (MET) are the most common intracranial lesions in neurosurgical routine. Both of them show an invasive growth pattern extending into neural tissue beyond the margins of contrast enhancement on MRI. These “undetected” areas might be the origin of early tumor recurrence. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) fluorescence provides an additional benefit in detection of invasive tumor compared with intraoperative MRI (iMRI).


The authors prospectively enrolled 45 patients harboring contrast-enhancing lesions, in whom gross-total resection was intended. All patients had surgery in which iMRI and 5-ALA–guided resection were used following a specific protocol. First, a typical white light tumor resection was performed. Then, spatial location of residual fluorescence was marked. After that, an iMRI was performed and residual uptake of contrast was marked. Navigated biopsy samples were taken from all marked areas and from additional sites according to the surgeon's judgment. Cross tables and receiver operating characteristic curves were calculated, assessing performance of the imaging methods for tumor detection alone and for combined detection of infiltration zone and solid tumor (pathological tissue). Also, correlations of histopathological findings with imaging results were tested using Spearman rho.


Thirty-four patients with HGGs and 11 with METs were enrolled. Three patients harboring a MET showed no 5-ALA enhancement and were excluded; 127 histopathological samples were harvested in the remaining patients. In HGG, sensitivity for tumor detection was significantly higher (p < 0.001) in 5-ALA (0.85) than in iMRI (0.41). Specificity was significantly lower (p < 0.001) in 5-ALA (0.43) than in iMRI (0.70). For detection of pathological tissue, 5-ALA significantly exceeded iMRI in specificity (0.80 vs 0.60) and sensitivity (0.91 vs 0.66) (p < 0.001). Imaging results of iMRI and 5-ALA did not correlate significantly; only 5-ALA showed a significant correlation with final histopathological diagnosis of the specimen and with typical histopathological features of HGGs. In METs, sensitivity and specificity for tumor detection were equal in 5-ALA and iMRI. Both techniques showed high values for sensitivity (0.75) and specificity (0.80). The odds ratio for detection of tumor tissue was 12 for both techniques. Concerning pathological tissue, no statistically significant difference was found either. Imaging results of iMRI and 5-ALA correlated significantly (p < 0.022), as with final histopathological diagnosis in METs.


In METs, due to the rate of nonenhancing lesions, the authors found no additional benefit of 5-ALA compared with iMRI. In HGG, imaging results of 5-ALA and iMRI are significantly different at the border zone; 5-ALA has a higher sensitivity and a lower specificity for tumor detection than Gd-DTPA–enhanced iMRI. For detection of infiltrating tumor at the border of the resection cavity, 5-ALA is superior to Gd-DTPA–enhanced iMRI concerning both sensitivity and specificity. Thus, use of 5-ALA in addition to iMRI might be beneficial to maximize extent of resection. Clinical synergistic effects will be evaluated in a prospective randomized trial.

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Jan Coburger, Ralph König, Klaus Seitz, Ute Bäzner, Christian Rainer Wirtz and Michal Hlavac


Intraoperative MRI (iMRI) provides updated information for neuronavigational purposes and assessments on the status of resection during transsphenoidal surgery (TSS). The high-field technique additionally provides information about vascular structures at risk and precise information about extrasellar residual tumor, making it readily available during the procedure. The imaging, however, extends the duration of surgery. To evaluate the benefit of this technique, the authors conducted a retrospective study to compare postoperative outcome and residual tumor in patients who underwent conventional microsurgical TSS with and without iMRI.


A total of 143 patients were assessed. A cohort of 67 patients who had undergone surgery before introduction of iMRI was compared with 76 patients who had undergone surgery since iMRI became routine in TSS at the authors' institution. Residual tumor, complications, hormone dependency, biochemical remission rates, and improvement of vision were assessed at 6-month follow-up. A volumetric evaluation of residual tumor was performed in cases of parasellar tumor extension.


The majority of patients in both groups suffered from nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. At the 6-month follow-up assessment, vision improved in 31% of patients who underwent iMRI-assisted surgery versus 23% in the conventional group. One instance of postoperative intrasellar bleeding was found in the conventional group. No major complications were found in the iMRI group. Minor complications were seen in 9% of patients in the iMRI group and in 5% of those in the conventional group. No differences between groups were found for hormone dependency and biochemical remission rates. Time of surgery was significantly lower in the conventional treatment group. Overall a residual tumor was found after surgery in 35% of the iMRI group, and 41% of the conventional surgery group harbored a residual tumor. Total resection was achieved as intended significantly more often in the iMRI group (91%) than in the conventional group (73%) (p < 0.034). Patients with a planned subtotal resection showed higher mean volumes of residual tumor in the conventional group. There was a significantly lower incidence of intrasellar tumor remnants in the iMRI group than in the conventional group. Progression-free survival after 30 months was higher according to Kaplan-Meier analysis with the use of iMRI, but a statistically significant difference could not be shown.


The use of high-field iMRI leads to a significantly higher rate of complete resection. In parasellar tumors a lower residual volume and a significantly lower rate of intrasellar tumor remnants were shown with the technique. So far, long-term follow-up is limited for iMRI. However, after 2 years Kaplan-Meier analyses show a distinctly higher progression-free survival in the iMRI group. No significant benefit of iMRI was found for biochemical remission rates and improvement of vision. Even though the surgical time was longer with the adjunct use of iMRI, it did not increase the complication rate significantly. The authors therefore recommend routine use of high-field iMRI for pituitary surgery, if this technique is available at the particular center.

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Andrej Pala, Fadi Awad, Michael Braun, Michal Hlavac, Arthur Wunderlich, Bernd Schmitz, Christian Rainer Wirtz and Jan Coburger


The gold standard for evaluation of ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt position, dislocation, or disconnection is conventional radiography. Yet, assessment with this modality can be challenging because of low image quality and can result in repetitive radiation exposure with high fluctuation in the radiation dose. Recently, CT-based radiation doses have been significantly reduced by using low-dose protocols. Thus, whole-body low-dose CT (LDCT) has become applicable for routine use in VP shunt evaluation. The authors here compared image quality and approximate radiation dose between radiography and LDCT in patients with implanted VP shunt systems.


Ventriculoperitoneal shunt systems have been investigated with LDCT scanning at the authors’ department since 2015. A consecutive series of 57 patients (70 investigations) treated between 2015 and 2016 was retrospectively assessed. A historical patient cohort that had been evaluated with radiography was compared with the LDCT patients in terms of radiation dose and image quality. Three independent observers evaluated projection of the valve pressure level and correct intraperitoneal position, as well as complete shunt projection, using a Likert-type scale of 1–5, where 1 indicated “not assessable” and 5 meant “assessable with high accuracy.” Descriptive statistics and the Mann-Whitney U-test were used for analysis.


Twenty-seven radiographs (38.6%) and 43 LDCT scans (61.4%) were analyzed. The median dose-length product (DLP) of the LDCT scans was 100 mGy·cm (range 59.9–183 mGy·cm). The median total dose-area product (DAP) of the radiographic images was 3177 mGy·cm2 (range 641–13,833 mGy·cm2). The estimated effective dose (EED) was significantly lower with the LDCT scan (p < 0.001). The median EED was 4.93 and 1.90 mSv for radiographs and LDCT, respectively. Significantly better identification of the abdominal position of the distal shunt catheter was achieved with LDCT (p < 0.001). Simultaneously, significantly improved visualization of the entire shunt system was realized with this technique (p < 0.001). On the contrary, identification of the valve settings was significantly worse with LDCT (p < 0.001).


Whole-body LDCT scanning allows good visualization of the distal catheter after VP shunt placement. Despite the fact that only a rough estimation of effective doses is possible in a direct comparison of LDCT and radiography, the data showed that shunt assessment via LDCT does not lead to greater radiation exposure. Thus, especially in difficult anatomical conditions, as in patients who have undergone multiple intraabdominal surgeries, have a high BMI, or are immobile, the use of LDCT shunt evaluation has high clinical value. Further data are needed to determine the value of LDCT for the evaluation of complications or radiation dose in pediatric patients.