Localization of Primary Language Areas by Arcuate Fascicle Fiber Tracking

Neurosurgery 70:56–65, 2012 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31822cb882

To reduce the risk of disabling postoperative functional deficit in patients with lesions in the dominant hemisphere, information about the localization of eloquent language areas is mandatory.

OBJECTIVE: To demonstrate the feasibility of arcuate fascicle (AF) tractography for proper localization of eloquent language areas in the superior temporal (STG) and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG).

METHODS: Between January and June 2010, we performed surgery in 13 patients with highly eloquent lesions with close spatial relationship to the primary language areas. All of them received preoperative diffusion tensor imaging for AF tractography. The STG and IFG were delineated at the ends of the AF. Five patients underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging of the primary language areas. The results were compared with tractography.

RESULTS: Tractography of the AF without prior knowledge of the localization of the STG and IFG was feasible in all cases. In the cases with functional magnetic resonance imaging, the activation maps matched the tractography results. In all but 1 patient, preservation of the primary language areas was possible, proven by the good neurological outcome. One patient suffered from a language dysfunction caused by a lesion in the medial and inferior temporal gyrus along the surgical pathway.

CONCLUSION: Tractography of the AF is a useful tool for identification of parts of the main primary language areas. Using tractography as a localization procedure to determine the primary language areas aids in the delineation of the STG and IFG and thus may help reduce the risk of postoperative permanent neurological deficit.