Brain mapping techniques allow one to effectively approach tumors involving the primary motor cortex (M1). Tumor resectability and maintenance of patient integrity depend on the ability to successfully identify motor tracts during resection by choosing the most appropriate neurophysiological paradigm for motor mapping. Mapping with a high-frequency (HF) stimulation technique has emerged as the most efficient tool to identify motor tracts because of its versatility in different clinical settings. At present, few data are available on the use of HF for removal of tumors predominantly involving M1.
The authors retrospectively analyzed a series of 102 patients with brain tumors within M1, by reviewing the use of HF as a guide. The neurophysiological protocols adopted during resections were described and correlated with patients’ clinical and tumor imaging features. Feasibility of mapping, extent of resection, and motor function assessment were used to evaluate the oncological and functional outcome to be correlated with the selected neurophysiological parameters used for guiding resection. The study aimed to define the most efficient protocol to guide resection for each clinical condition.
The data confirmed HF as an efficient tool for guiding resection of M1 tumors, affording 85.3% complete resection and only 2% permanent morbidity. HF was highly versatile, adapting the stimulation paradigm and the probe to the clinical context. Three approaches were used. The first was a “standard approach” (HF “train of 5,” using a monopolar probe) applied in 51 patients with no motor deficit and seizure control, harboring a well-defined tumor, showing contrast enhancement in most cases, and reaching the M1 surface. Complete resection was achieved in 72.5%, and 2% had permanent morbidity. The second approach was an “increased train approach,” that is, an increase in the number of pulses (7–9) and of pulse duration, using a monopolar probe. This second approach was applied in 8 patients with a long clinical history, previous treatment (surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy), motor deficit at admission, poor seizure control, and mostly high-grade gliomas or metastases. Complete resection was achieved in 87.5% using this approach, along with 0% permanent morbidity. The final approach was a “reduced train approach,” which was the combined use of train of 2 or train of 1 pulses associated with the standard approach, using a monopolar or bipolar probe. This approach was used in 43 patients with a long clinical history and poorly controlled seizures, harboring tumors with irregular borders without contrast enhancement (low or lower grade), possibly not reaching the cortical surface. Complete resection was attained in 88.4%, and permanent morbidity was found in 2.3%.
Resection of M1 tumors is feasible and safe. By adapting the stimulation paradigm and probe appropriately to the clinical context, the best resection and functional results can be achieved.