Navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) is a novel technology in the field of neurosurgery for noninvasive delineation of cortical functional topography. This study addresses the spatial accuracy and clinical usefulness of nTMS in brain tumor surgery in or near the motor cortex based on a systematic review of observational studies.
A systematic search retrieved 11 reports published up to October 2012 in which adult patients were examined with nTMS prior to surgery. Quality criteria consisted of documentation of the influence of nTMS brain mapping on clinical decision making in a standardized prospective manner and/or performance of intraoperative direct electrical stimulation (DES) and comparison with nTMS results. Cross-observational assessment of nTMS accuracy was established by calculating a weighted mean distance between nTMS and DES.
All studies reviewed in this article concluded that nTMS correlated well with the “gold standard” of DES. The mean distance between motor cortex identified on nTMS and DES by using the mean distance in 81 patients described in 6 quantitatively evaluated studies was 6.18 mm. The nTMS results changed the surgical strategy based on anatomical imaging alone in 25.3% of all patients, based on the data obtained in 87 patients in 2 studies.
The nTMS technique spatially correlates well with the gold standard of DES. Its functional information benefits surgical decision making and changes the treatment strategy in one-fourth of cases.