Resection of cavernous malformations (CMs) located in functionally eloquent areas of the supratentorial compartment is controversial. Hemorrhage from untreated lesions can result in devastating neurological injury, but surgery has potentially serious risks. We hypothesized that an organized system of approaches can guide operative planning and lead to acceptable neurological outcomes in surgical patients.
The authors reviewed the presentation, surgery, and outcomes of 79 consecutive patients who underwent microresection of supratentorial CMs in eloquent and deep brain regions (basal ganglia [in 27 patients], sensorimotor cortex [in 23], language cortex [in 3], thalamus [in 6], visual cortex [in 10], and corpus callosum [in 10]). A total of 13 different microsurgical approaches were organized into 4 groups: superficial, lateral transsylvian, medial interhemispheric, and posterior approaches.
The majority of patients (93.7%) were symptomatic. Hemorrhage with resulting focal neurological deficit was the most common presentation in 53 patients (67%). Complete resection, as determined by postoperative MR imaging, was achieved in 76 patients (96.2%). Overall, the functional neurological status of patients improved after microsurgical dissection at the time of discharge from the hospital and at follow-up. At 6 months, 64 patients (81.0%) were improved relative to their preoperative condition and 14 patients (17.7%) were unchanged. Good outcomes (modified Rankin Scale score ≤ 2, living independently) were achieved in 77 patients (97.4%). Multivariate analysis of demographic and surgical factors revealed that preoperative functional status was the only predictor of postoperative modified Rankin Scale score (OR 4.6, p = 0.001). Six patients (7.6%) had transient worsening of neurological examination after surgery, and 1 patient (1.3%) was permanently worse. There was no surgical mortality.
The authors present a system of 13 microsurgical approaches to 6 location targets with 4 general trajectories to facilitate safe access to supratentorial CMs in eloquent brain regions. Favorable neurological outcomes following microsurgical resection justify an aggressive surgical attitude toward these lesions.