Occipital WHO grade II gliomas: oncological, surgical and functional considerations

Acta Neurochir (2011) 153:1907–1917. DOI 10.1007/s00701-011-1125-z

Diffuse WHO grade II glioma (GIIG) involving the occipital lobe is a rare entity. Its surgical resection remains controversial as it implies inducing a permanent visual deficit. For the first time to our knowledge, we report a consecutive surgical series of patients who underwent an occipital lobectomy for an LGG invading visual structures.

Method Six right-handed patients harboring a GIIG revealed by seizures (normal examination except a quadrantanopsia in one case) and located within the occipital lobe (4 left and 2 right tumors) were submitted to surgery. Before making this decision, the benefit-to-risk ratio of the resection was extensively discussed with the patient and his/her family, especially concerning the price to pay to remove the tumor, that is, to voluntarily generate a permanent hemianopsia. All the procedures were performed under awake condition using intraoperative electrostimulation, in order to pursue the resection until sensory-motor and/or language structures were encountered.

Findings An extensive occipital lobectomy was achieved in the six patients, with identification and preservation of sensory-motor pathways in the two cases with a right tumor and detection of language pathways in the four cases with a left tumor. The mean extent of resection was 93% (range: 91–100%). All patients experienced an expected postoperative deficit of the visual field (homonymous hemianopsia). Nonetheless, the six patients resumed a normal social and professional life (KPS at 90 in the 6 cases) with a mean follow-up of 58 months (range: 3–147 months)—with adjuvant treatment in three cases (in addition to a reoperation in two of them).

Conclusions Our findings suggest that, despite a definitive hemianopsia, an extensive surgical resection can be considered in the rare cases of occipital GIIG involving the primary visual structures, with patients able to maintain a normal life—except regarding the medico-legal problem of driving.

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