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Fatih Incekara, Djaina Satoer, Evy Visch-Brink, Arnaud Vincent and Marion Smits

OBJECTIVE

The authors conducted a study to determine whether cognitive functioning of patients with presumed low-grade glioma is associated with white matter (WM) tract changes.

METHODS

The authors included 77 patients with presumed low-grade glioma who underwent awake surgery between 2005 and 2013. Diffusion tensor imaging with deterministic tractography was performed preoperatively to identify the arcuate, inferior frontooccipital, and uncinate fasciculi and to obtain the mean fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity per tract. All patients were evaluated preoperatively using an extensive neuropsychological protocol that included assessments of the language, memory, and attention/executive function domains. Linear regression models were used to analyze each cognitive domain and each diffusion tensor imaging metric of the 3 WM tracts.

RESULTS

Significant correlations (corrected for multiple testing) were found between FA of the arcuate fasciculus and results of the repetition test for the language domain (β = 0.59, p < 0.0001) and between FA of the inferior frontooccipital fasciculus and results of the imprinting test for the memory domain (β = −0.55, p = 0.002) and the attention test for the attention and executive function domain (β = −0.62, p = 0.006).

CONCLUSIONS

In patients with glioma, language deficits in repetition of speech, imprinting, and attention deficits are associated with changes in the microarchitecture of the arcuate and inferior frontooccipital fasciculi.

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Fatih Incekara, Marion Smits and Arnaud J. P. E. Vincent

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Djaina Satoer, Judith Vork, Evy Visch-Brink, Marion Smits, Clemens Dirven and Arnaud Vincent

Object

Patients with gliomas frequently have cognitive deficits, and surgery can exacerbate these deficits. Preoperative assessment is therefore crucial in patients undergoing surgery for glioma in eloquent areas, because the proximity of functional areas increases the risk of permanent postoperative cognitive disturbances. Although pre- and postoperative language and motor function in patients with glioma have been investigated frequently, data on good cognition studies are scarce. Most studies have focused on clinical neurological functioning or have only used brief neurological instruments. The authors investigated whether surgery for glioma in eloquent areas influences cognition early after surgery, by using an elaborate test protocol.

Methods

Twenty-eight patients with gliomas of the left hemisphere in language and nonlanguage areas were assessed before and 3 months after surgery with a comprehensive neuropsychological test protocol. The authors performed a correlation analysis between change in cognitive performance and tumor characteristics (that is, location, volume, pathological features, and histological grade) and between cognitive change and treatment-related factors (the extent of the resection and postoperative treatment with chemo- and radiotherapy).

Results

Both pre- and postoperatively, the mean performance of the patients was worse than the performance of the normal population in the language domain, the memory domain, and the executive functions (p < 0.05). Postoperatively, a decline was found in the language domain (t = 2.34, p = 0.027) and in the executive functions (t = 2.45, p = 0.022). However, cognitive change postsurgery was influenced by the location of the tumor; the decrease of cognitive score in the language domain was only observed in patients with tumors in or close to language areas (t = 2.33, p = 0.029). No effect on cognitive change was found for the other tumor characteristics and treatment-related factors.

Conclusions

This study underlines the importance of the use of a neuropsychological test protocol before and after surgery in patients with glioma, because several tasks in the domains of language, memory, and executive functions appeared to deteriorate after surgery. Tumor resection in language areas increases the risk of cognitive deficits in the language domain postoperatively.