Previous studies have suggested a correlation between interhemispheric sensorimotor networks and recovery from supplementary motor area (SMA) syndrome. In the present study, the authors examined the hypothesis that interhemispheric connectivity of the primary motor cortex in one hemisphere with the contralateral SMA may be important in the recovery from SMA syndrome. Further, they posited that motor cortical fiber connectivity with the SMA is related to the severity of SMA syndrome.
Patients referred to the authors’ neurological surgery department were retrospectively analyzed for this study. All patients with tumors involving the unilateral SMA region, without involvement of the primary motor area, and diagnosed with SMA syndrome in the postoperative period were eligible for inclusion. Preoperative diffusion tensor imaging tractography (DTT) was used to examine the number of fiber tracts (NFidx) connecting the contralateral SMA to the ipsilateral primary motor area via the corpus callosum. Complete neurological examination had been performed in all patients in the pre- and postoperative periods. All patients were divided into two groups: those who recovered from SMA syndrome in ≤ 7 days (early recovery group) and those who recovered in ≥ 8 days (late recovery group). Differences between the two groups were assessed using the Student t-test and the chi-square test.
Eleven patients (10 men, 1 woman) were included in the study. All patients showed transient postoperative motor deficits because of SMA syndrome. Tractography data revealed NFidx from the contralateral SMA to the ipsilateral primary motor area via the corpus callosum. The mean tumor volume (early 27.87 vs late 50.91 cm3, p = 0.028) and mean NFidx (early 8923.16 vs late 4726.4, p = 0.002) were significantly different between the two groups. Fisher exact test showed a significant difference in the days of recovery from SMA syndrome between patients with an NFidx > 8000 and those with an NFidx < 8000.
Diffusion tensor imaging tractography may be useful for predicting the speed of recovery from SMA syndrome. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first DTT study to identify interhemispheric connectivity of the SMA in patients with brain tumors.