Frontal cortico-subcortical functional anatomy

Subcortical surgical anatomy of the lateral frontal region

J Neurosurg 117:1053–1069, 2012

Recent neuroimaging and surgical results support the crucial role of white matter in mediating motor and higher-level processing within the frontal lobe, while suggesting the limited compensatory capacity after damage to subcortical structures. Consequently, an accurate knowledge of the anatomofunctional organization of the pathways running within this region is mandatory for planning safe and effective surgical approaches to different diseases. The aim of this dissection study was to improve the neurosurgeon’s awareness of the subcortical anatomofunctional architecture for a lateral approach to the frontal region, to optimize both resection and postoperative outcome.

Methods. Ten human hemispheres (5 left, 5 right) were dissected according to the Klingler technique. Proceeding lateromedially, the main association and projection tracts as well as the deeper basal structures were identified. The authors describe the anatomy and the relationships among the exposed structures in both a systematic and topographical surgical perspective. Structural results were also correlated to the functional responses obtained during resections of infiltrative frontal tumors guided by direct cortico-subcortical electrostimulation with patients in the awake condition.

Results. The eloquent boundaries crucial for a safe frontal lobectomy or an extensive lesionectomy are as follows: 1) the motor cortex; 2) the pyramidal tract and premotor fibers in the posterior and posteromedial part of the surgical field; 3) the inferior frontooccipital fascicle and the superior longitudinal fascicle posterolaterally; and 4) underneath the inferior frontal gyrus, the head of the caudate nucleus, and the tip of the frontal horn of the lateral ventricle in the depth.

Conclusions. Optimization of results following brain surgery, especially within the frontal lobe, requires a perfect knowledge of functional anatomy, not only at the cortical level but also with regard to subcortical white matter connectivity.

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