Protocol for motor and language mapping by navigated TMS in patients and healthy volunteers

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:1187–1195

Navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) is increasingly used for preoperative mapping of motor function, and clinical evidence for its benefit for brain tumor patients is accumulating. In respect to language mapping with repetitive nTMS, literature reports have yielded variable results, and it is currently not routinely performed for presurgical language localization. The aim of this project is to define a common protocol for nTMS motor and language mapping to standardize its neurosurgical application and increase its clinical value.

Methods: The nTMS workshop group, consisting of highly experienced nTMS users with experience of more than 1500 preoperative nTMS examinations, met in Helsinki in January 2016 for thorough discussions of current evidence and personal experiences with the goal to recommend a standardized protocol for neurosurgical applications.

Results: nTMS motor mapping is a reliable and clinically validated tool to identify functional areas belonging to both normal and lesioned primary motor cortex. In contrast, this is less clear for language-eloquent cortical areas identified by nTMS. The user group agreed on a core protocol, which enables comparison of results between centers and has an excellent safety profile. Recommendations for nTMS motor and language mapping protocols and their optimal clinical integration are presented here.

Conclusion: At present, the expert panel recommends nTMS motor mapping in routine neurosurgical practice, as it has a sufficient level of evidence supporting its reliability. The panel recommends that nTMS language mapping be used in the framework of clinical studies to continue refinement of its protocol and increase reliability.