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Matthias Millesi, Barbara Kiesel, Vanessa Mazanec, Lisa I. Wadiura, Adelheid Wöhrer, Johannes Herta, Stefan Wolfsberger, Klaus Novak, Julia Furtner, Karl Rössler, Engelbert Knosp, and Georg Widhalm

OBJECTIVE

Gross-total resection (GTR) is the treatment of choice in the majority of patients suffering from spinal ependymal tumors. In such tumors, the extent of resection (EOR) is considered the key factor for tumor recurrence and thus patient prognosis. However, incomplete resection is not uncommon and leads to increased risk of tumor recurrence. One important cause of incomplete resection is insufficient intraoperative visualization of tumor tissue as well as residual tumor tissue. Therefore, the authors investigated the value of 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA)–induced fluorescence in a series of spinal ependymal tumors for improved tumor visualization.

METHODS

Adult patients who underwent preoperative 5-ALA administration and surgery for a spinal ependymal tumor were included in this study. For each tumor, a conventional white-light microsurgical resection was performed. Additionally, the fluorescence status (strong, vague, or no fluorescence) and fluorescence homogeneity (homogenous or inhomogeneous) of the spinal ependymal tumors were evaluated during surgery using a modified neurosurgical microscope. In intramedullary tumor cases with assumed GTR, the resection cavity was investigated for potential residual fluorescing foci under white-light microscopy. In cases with residual fluorescing foci, these areas were safely resected and the corresponding samples were histopathologically screened for the presence of tumor tissue.

RESULTS

In total, 31 spinal ependymal tumors, including 27 intramedullary tumors and 4 intradural extramedullary tumors, were included in this study. Visible fluorescence was observed in the majority of spinal ependymal tumors (n = 25, 81%). Of those, strong fluorescence was noted in 23 of these cases (92%), whereas vague fluorescence was present in 2 cases (8%). In contrast, no fluorescence was observed in the remaining 6 tumors (19%). Most ependymal tumors demonstrated an inhomogeneous fluorescence effect (17 of 25 cases, 68%). After assumed GTR in intramedullary tumors (n = 15), unexpected residual fluorescing foci within the resection cavity could be detected in 5 tumors (33%). These residual fluorescing foci histopathologically corresponded to residual tumor tissue in all cases.

CONCLUSIONS

This study indicates that 5-ALA fluorescence makes it possible to visualize the majority of spinal ependymal tumors during surgery. Unexpected residual tumor tissue could be detected with the assistance of 5-ALA fluorescence in approximately one-third of analyzed intramedullary tumors. Thus, 5-ALA fluorescence might be useful to increase the EOR, particularly in intramedullary ependymal tumors, in order to reduce the risk of tumor recurrence.

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Johannes Herta, Fabian Winter, Ekaterina Pataraia, Martha Feucht, Thomas Czech, Barbara Porsche, Ulrike Leiss, Irene Slavc, Andreas Peyrl, Gregor Kasprian, Karl Rössler, and Christian Dorfer

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to evaluate the feasibility, benefit, and safety of awake brain surgery (ABS) and intraoperative language mapping in children and adolescents with structural epilepsies. Whereas ABS is an established method to monitor language function in adults intraoperatively, reports of ABS in children are scarce.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review of pediatric patients ≤ 18 years of age who underwent ABS and cortical language mapping for supratentorial tumors and nontumoral epileptogenic lesions between 2008 and 2019 was conducted. The authors evaluated the global intellectual and specific language performance by using detailed neuropsychological testing, the patient’s intraoperative compliance, results of intraoperative language mapping assisted by electrocorticography (ECoG), and postsurgical language development and seizure outcomes. Descriptive statistics were used for this study, with a statistical significance of p < 0.05.

RESULTS

Eleven children (7 boys) with a median age of 13 years (range 10–18 years) underwent ABS for a lesion in close vicinity to cortical language areas as defined by structural and functional MRI (left hemisphere in 9 children, right hemisphere in 2). Patients were neurologically intact but experiencing seizures; these were refractory to therapy in 9 patients. Compliance during the awake phase was high in 10 patients and low in 1 patient. Cortical mapping identified eloquent language areas in 6/10 (60%) patients and was concordant in 3/8 (37.5%), discordant in 3/8 (37.5%), and unclear in 2/8 (25%) patients compared to preoperative functional MRI. Stimulation-induced seizures occurred in 2 patients and could be interrupted easily. ECoG revealed that afterdischarge potentials (ADP) were involved in 5/9 (56%) patients with speech disturbances during stimulation. None of these patients harbored postoperative language dysfunction. Gross-total resection was achieved in 10/11 (91%) patients, and all were seizure free after a median follow-up of 4.3 years. Neuropsychological testing using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children and the verbal learning and memory test showed an overall nonsignificant trend toward an immediate postoperative deterioration followed by an improvement to above preoperative levels after 1 year.

CONCLUSIONS

ABS is a valuable technique in selected pediatric patients with lesions in language areas. An interdisciplinary approach, careful patient selection, extensive preoperative training of patients, and interpretation of intraoperative ADP are pivotal to a successful surgery.