Awake craniotomy versus craniotomy under general anesthesia without surgery adjuncts for supratentorial glioblastoma in eloquent areas

Acta Neurochirurgica (2019) 161:307–315

Awake craniotomy with electrocortical and subcortical mapping (AC) has become the mainstay of surgical treat- ment of supratentorial low-grade gliomas in eloquent areas, but not as much for glioblastomas.

Objective This retrospective controlled-matched study aims to determine whether AC increases gross total resections (GTR) and decreases neurological morbidity in glioblastoma patients as compared to resection under general anesthesia (GA, conventional). Methods Thirty-seven patients with glioblastoma undergoing AC were 1:3 controlled-matched with 111 patients undergoing GA for glioblastoma resection. The two groups were matched for age, gender, preoperative Karnofsky Performance Score (KPS), preoperative tumor volume, tumor location, and type of adjuvant treatment. Primary outcomes were extent of resection and the rate of postoperative complications. The secondary outcome was overall postoperative survival.

Results After matching, there were no significant differences in clinical variables between groups. Extent of resection was significantly higher in the AC group: mean extent of resection in the AC group was 94.89% (SD = 10.57) as compared to 70.30% (SD = 28.37) in the GA group (p = 0.0001). Furthermore, the mean rate of late minor postoperative complications in the AC group (0.03; SD = − 0.16) was significantly lower than in the GA group (0.15; SD = 0.39) (p = 0.05). No significant differences between groups were found for the other subgroups of postoperative complications. Moreover, overall postoperative survival did not differ between groups (p = 0.297).

Conclusion These findings suggest that resection of glioblastoma using AC is associated with significantly greater extent of resection and less late minor postoperative complications as compared with craniotomy under GA without the use of surgery adjuncts. However, due to certain limitations inherent to our study design (selection bias) and the absence of the use of surgery adjuncts in the GA group, we advocate for a prospective study to further build upon this evidence and study the use of AC in glioblastoma patients.