Nonenhancing motor eloquent gliomas: navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation oncobiological signature

J Neurosurg 140:909–919, 2024

Preoperative grading of nonenhancing motor eloquent gliomas is hampered by a lack of specific imaging surrogates. Tumor grading is crucial for the informed consent discussion before tumor resection. In this paper, the authors hypothesized that navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS)–derived metrics could provide significant information to distinguish between high- and low-grade motor eloquent gliomas that present as nonenhancing tumors and therefore contribute to improving patient counseling, timing of treatment, preoperative planning, and intraoperative strategies.

METHODS The authors conducted a retrospective single-center cohort study of patients admitted for tumor surgery between January 2018 and April 2022 with a nonenhancing motor eloquent glioma and preoperative bilateral nTMS mapping. nTMS data including resting motor threshold (RMT), interhemispheric RMT ratio (iRMTr), Cortical Excitability Score (CES), area and volume of cortical activation, and motor evoked potential (MEP) characteristics were obtained and integrated with demographic and clinical data.

RESULTS Thirty patients met the inclusion criteria, and 10 healthy participants were recruited for comparison. Seizures were the most common presenting symptom (25 patients) and WHO grade 3 the most common tumor grade (21 patients). The area and volume of functional cortical activation of both the abductor pollicis brevis and first dorsal interosseous muscles were decreased in healthy participants compared with patients with WHO grade 3 glioma (p < 0.05). An abnormal iRMTr for the lower limbs (16.7% [1/6] WHO grade 2, 76.2% [16/21] WHO grade 3, 100% [3/3] WHO grade 4; p = 0.015) and a higher CES (maximal abnormal CES: 0% [0/6] WHO grade 2, 38% [8/21] WHO grade 3, 66.7% [2/3] WHO grade 4; p = 0.010) were associated with the prediction of high-grade lesions. A total of 7280 MEPs were analyzed. A significant increase in the amplitude and a significant decrease in latency in the MEPs for the first dorsal interosseous and abductor digiti minimi muscles (p < 0.0001) were identified in healthy participants compared with WHO grade 3 glioma patients.

CONCLUSIONS Nonenhancing motor eloquent gliomas have a different impact on both anatomical and functional reorganization of motor areas according to their WHO grading.