Amygdala and Hypothalamus: Historical Overview With Focus on Aggression

Neurosurgery, 85, 1: 11–30, 2019

Aggressiveness has a high prevalence in psychiatric patients and is a major health problem. Two brain areas involved in the neural network of aggressive behavior are the amygdala and the hypothalamus.

While pharmacological treatments are effective in most patients, some do not properly respond to conventional therapies and are considered medically refractory. In this population, surgical procedures (ie, stereotactic lesions and deep brain stimulation) have been performed in an attempt to improve symptomatology and quality of life.

Clinical results obtained after surgery are difficult to interpret, and the mechanisms responsible for postoperative reductions in aggressive behavior are unknown.

We review the rationale and neurobiological characteristics that may help to explain why functional neurosurgery has been proposed to control aggressive behavior.

A novel mesial temporal stereotactic coordinate system

J Neurosurg 130:67–75, 2019

Stereotactic laser ablation and neurostimulator placement represent an evolution in staged surgical intervention for epilepsy. As this practice evolves, optimal targeting will require standardized outcome measures that compare electrode lead or laser source with postprocedural changes in seizure frequency. The authors propose and present a novel stereotactic coordinate system based on mesial temporal anatomical landmarks to facilitate the planning and delineation of outcomes based on extent of ablation or region of stimulation within mesial temporal structures.

METHODS The body of the hippocampus contains a natural axis, approximated by the interface of cornu ammonis area 4 and the dentate gyrus. The uncal recess of the lateral ventricle acts as a landmark to characterize the anteriorposterior extent of this axis. Several volumetric rotations are quantified for alignment with the mesial temporal coordinate system. First, the brain volume is rotated to align with standard anterior commissure–posterior commissure (AC-PC) space. Then, it is rotated through the axial and sagittal angles that the hippocampal axis makes with the AC-PC line.

RESULTS Using this coordinate system, customized MATLAB software was developed to allow for intuitive standardization of targeting and interpretation. The angle between the AC-PC line and the hippocampal axis was found to be approximately 20°–30° when viewed sagittally and approximately 5°–10° when viewed axially. Implanted electrodes can then be identified from CT in this space, and laser tip position and burn geometry can be calculated based on the intraoperative and postoperative MRI.

CONCLUSIONS With the advent of stereotactic surgery for mesial temporal targets, a mesial temporal stereotactic system is introduced that may facilitate operative planning, improve surgical outcomes, and standardize outcome assessment.

 

Minimally invasive subfrontal route for the resection of medial temporal region intrinsic tumors

Minimally invasive subfrontal route for the resection of medial temporal region intrinsic tumors

Acta Neurochir (2015) 157:1971–1974

The mesial temporal region (MTR) comprises important components of the limbic system, as well as vital neurovascular structures. Because of its important functional role, as much healthy brain tissue as possible must be preserved while targeting resection of MTR lesions.

Methods A frontal minicraniotomy is used to access the MTR through a subfrontal approach. By opening the most medial part of the Sylvian fissure, the uncus-amygdala complex is exposed, and through this, the head of the hippocampus can be reached and removed as well.

Conclusions This approach is extremely suitable for MTR lesions, as it provides the advantage of sparing the most important functional structures of the temporal lobe, the temporal stem, and the limen insulae, as well as the optic radiations and the fronto-occipital connections.

The paramedian supracerebellar-transtentorial approach to the entire length of the mediobasal temporal region

J Neurosurg 116:773–791, 2012. http://thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/2011.12.JNS11791

The exploration of lesions in the mediobasal temporal region (MTR) has challenged generations of neurosurgeons to achieve an appropriate approach. To address this challenge, the extensive use of the paramedian supracerebellar-transtentorial (PST) approach to expose the entire length of the MTR, as well as the fusiform gyrus, was investigated.

Methods. The authors studied the microsurgical aspects of the PST approach in 20 cadaver brains and 5 cadaver heads under the operating microscope. They evaluated the features, advantages, difficulties, and limitations of the PST approach and refined the surgical technique. They then used the PST approach in 15 patients with large intrinsic MTR tumors (6 patients), tumor in the posterior fusiform gyrus with mediobasal temporal epilepsy (MTE) (1 patient), cavernous malformations in the posterior MTR including the fusiform gyrus (2 patients), or intractable MTE with hippocampal sclerosis (6 patients) from December 2007 to May 2010. Patients ranged in age from 11 to 63 years (mean 35.2 years), and in 9 patients (60%) the lesion was located on the left side.

Results. In all patients with neuroepithelial tumors or cavernous malformations, the lesions were completely and safely resected. In all patients with intractable MTE with hippocampal sclerosis, the anterior two-thirds of the parahippocampal gyrus and hippocampus, as well as the amygdala, were removed selectively through the PST approach. There was no surgical morbidity or mortality in this series. Three patients (20%) with high-grade neuroepithelial tumors underwent postoperative radiotherapy and chemotherapy but needed a second surgery for recurrence during the follow-up period. In all patients with MTE, antiepileptic medication could be decreased to a single drug at lower doses, and no seizure activity has occurred until this point.

Conclusions. The PST approach provides the surgeon precise anatomical orientation when exposing the entire length of the MTR, as well as the fusiform gyrus, for removing any lesion. This is a novel technique especially for removing tumors involving the entire MTR in a single session without damaging neighboring neural or vascular structures. This approach can also be a viable alternative for selective removal of the parahippocampal gyrus, hippocampus, and amygdala in patients with MTE due to hippocampal sclerosis.

Tractography of the amygdala and hippocampus: anatomical study and application to selective amygdalohippocampectomy

J Neurosurg 113:1135–1143, 2010.(DOI: 10.3171/2010.3.JNS091832)

The aim of this study was to evaluate, using diffusion tensor tractography, the white matter fibers crossing the hippocampus and the amygdala, and to perform a volumetric analysis and an anatomical study of the connections of these 2 structures. As a second step, the authors studied the white matter tracts crossing a virtual volume of resection corresponding to a selective amygdalo-hippocampectomy.

Methods. Twenty healthy right-handed individuals underwent 3-T MR imaging. Volumetric regions of interest were manually created to delineate the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the volume of resection. White matter fiber tracts were parcellated using the fiber assignment for continuous tracking tractography algorithm. All fibers were registered with the anatomical volumes.

Results. In all participants, the authors identified fibers following the hippocampus toward the fornix, the splenium of the corpus callosum, and the dorsal hippocampal commissure. With respect to the fibers crossing the amygdala, the authors identified the stria terminalis and the uncinate fasciculus. The virtual resection disrupted part of the fornix, fibers connecting the 2 hippocampi, and fibers joining the orbitofrontal cortex. The approach created a theoretical frontotemporal disconnection and also interrupted fibers joining the temporal pole and the occipital area.

Conclusions. This diffusion tensor tractography study allowed for good visualization of some of the connections of the amygdala and hippocampus. The authors observed that the virtual selective amygdalohippocampectomy disconnected a large number of fibers connecting frontal, temporal, and occipital areas