Sodium fluorescein uptake by the tumor microenvironment in human gliomas and brain metastases

J Neurosurg 140:958–967, 2024

Intravenous sodium fluorescein (SF) is increasingly used during surgery of gliomas and brain metastases to improve tumor resection. Currently, SF is believed to permeate the brain regions where the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is damaged and to accumulate in the extracellular space but not in tumor or healthy cells, making it possible to demarcate tumor margins to guide resection. By evaluating the immune contexture of a number of freshly resected gliomas and brain metastases from patients undergoing SF-guided surgery, the authors recurrently observed fluorescence-positive cells. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine if SF accumulates inside the cells of the tumor microenvironment (TME), and if so, in which type of cells, and whether incorporation can also be observed in the leukocytes of peripheral blood.

METHODS Freshly resected tumor specimens were dissociated to single cells and analyzed by multiparametric flow cytometry. Peripheral blood leukocytes, macrophages, and a glioma cell line were treated with SF in vitro, and their cell uptake was assessed by multiparametric and imaging flow cytometry and by confocal microscopy.

RESULTS The ex vivo and in vitro analyses revealed that SF accumulates intracellularly in leukocytes as well as in tumor cells, but with a high variability of incorporation in the different cell subsets analyzed. Myeloid cells showed the highest level of fluorescence. In vitro uptake experiments showed that SF accumulation increases over time. The imaging analyses confirmed the internalization of the compound inside the cells.

CONCLUSIONS SF is not just a marker of BBB damage, but its intracellular detection suggests that it selectively accumulates intracellularly. Future efforts should target the mechanisms of its differential uptake by the different TME cell types in depth.

Personalized surgery of brain tumors in language areas: the role of preoperative brain mapping in patients not eligible for awake surgery

Neurosurg Focus 53 (6):E3, 2022

Awake surgery represents the gold standard for resection of brain tumors close to the language network. However, in some cases patients may be considered not eligible for awake craniotomy. In these cases, a personalized brain mapping of the language network may be achieved by navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS), which can guide resection in patients under general anesthesia. Here the authors describe their tailored nTMS-based strategy and analyze its impact on the extent of tumor resection (EOR) and language outcome in a series of patients not eligible for awake surgery.

METHODS The authors reviewed data from all patients harboring a brain tumor in or close to the language network who were considered not eligible for awake surgery and were operated on during asleep surgery between January 2017 and July 2022, under the intraoperative guidance of nTMS data. The authors analyzed the effectiveness of nTMS-based mapping data in relation to 1) the ability of the nTMS-based mapping to stratify patients according to surgical risks, 2) the occurrence of postoperative language deficits, and 3) the EOR.

RESULTS A total of 176 patients underwent preoperative nTMS cortical language mapping and nTMS-based tractography of language fascicles. According to the nTMS-based mapping, tumors in 115 patients (65.3%) were identified as true-eloquent tumors because of a close spatial relationship with the language network. Conversely, tumors in 61 patients (34.7%) for which the nTMS mapping disclosed a location at a safer distance from the network were identified as false-eloquent tumors. At 3 months postsurgery, a permanent language deficit was present in 13 patients (7.3%).

In particular, a permanent deficit was observed in 12 of 115 patients (10.4%) with true-eloquent tumors and in 1 of 61 patients (1.6%) with false-eloquent lesions. With nTMS-based mapping, neurosurgeons were able to distinguish trueeloquent from false-eloquent tumors in a significant number of cases based on the occurrence of deficits at discharge (p < 0.0008) and after 3 months from surgery (OR 6.99, p = 0.03). Gross-total resection was achieved in 80.1% of patients overall and in 69.5% of patients with true-eloquent lesions and 100% of patients with false-eloquent tumors.

CONCLUSIONS nTMS-based mapping allows for reliable preoperative mapping of the language network that may be used to stratify patients according to surgical risks. nTMS-guided asleep surgery should be considered a good alternative for personalized preoperative brain mapping of the language network that may increase the possibility of safe and effective resection of brain tumors in the dominant hemisphere whenever awake mapping is not feasible.

Augmented reality visualization in brain lesions: a prospective randomized controlled evaluation of its potential and current limitations in navigated microneurosurgery

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 26:3–14

Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to support complex neurosurgical interventions by including visual information seamlessly. This study examines intraoperative visualization parameters and clinical impact of AR in brain tumor surgery.

Methods Fifty-five intracranial lesions, operated either with AR-navigated microscope (n = 39) or conventional neuronavigation (n = 16) after randomization, have been included prospectively. Surgical resection time, duration/type/mode of AR, displayed objects (n, type), pointer-based navigation checks (n), usability of control, quality indicators, and overall surgical usefulness of AR have been assessed.

Results AR display has been used in 44.4% of resection time. Predominant AR type was navigation view (75.7%), followed by target volumes (20.1%). Predominant AR mode was picture-in-picture (PiP) (72.5%), followed by 23.3% overlay display. In 43.6% of cases, vision of important anatomical structures has been partially or entirely blocked by AR information. A total of 7.7% of cases used MRI navigation only, 30.8% used one, 23.1% used two, and 38.5% used three or more object segmentations in AR navigation. A total of 66.7% of surgeons found AR visualization helpful in the individual surgical case. AR depth information and accuracy have been rated acceptable (median 3.0 vs. median 5.0 in conventional neuronavigation). The mean utilization of the navigation pointer was 2.6   /resection hour (AR) vs. 9.7   /resection hour (neuronavigation); navigation effort was significantly reduced in AR (P < 0.001).

Conclusions The main benefit of HUD-based AR visualization in brain tumor surgery is the integrated continuous display allowing for pointer-less navigation. Navigation view (PiP) provides the highest usability while blocking the operative field less frequently. Visualization quality will benefit from improvements in registration accuracy and depth impression.

German clinical trials registration number. DRKS00016955.

Clinical Pearls and Methods for Intraoperative Motor Mapping

Neurosurgery 88:457–467, 2021

Resection of brain tumors involving motor areas and pathways requires the identification and preservation of various cortical and subcortical structures involved in motor control at the time of the procedure, in order to maintain the patient’s full motor capacities. The use of brain mapping techniques has now been integrated into clinical practice for many years, as they help the surgeon to identify the neural structures involved in motor functions. A common definition of motor function, as well as knowledge of its neural organization, has been continuously evolving, underlining the need for implementing intraoperative strategies at the time of the procedure. Similarly, mapping strategies have been subjected to continuous changes, enhancing the likelihood of preservation of full motor capacities. As a general rule, the motor mapping strategy should be as flexible as possible and adapted strictly to the individual patient and clinical context of the tumor.

In this work, we present an overview of current knowledge of motor organization, indications for motor mapping, available motor mapping, and monitoring strategies, as well as their advantages and limitations. The use of motor mapping improves resection and outcomes in patients harboring tumors involving motor areas and pathways, and should be considered the gold standard in the resection of this type of tumor.

Surgical treatment of meningiomas located in the rolandic area

J Neurosurg 133:107–118, 2020

Surgical treatment of convexity meningiomas is usually considered a low-risk procedure. Nevertheless, the risk of postoperative motor deficits is higher (7.1%–24.7% of all cases) for lesions located in the rolandic region, especially when an arachnoidal cleavage plane with the motor pathway is not identifiable. The authors analyzed the possible role of navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) for planning resection of rolandic meningiomas and predicting the presence or lack of an intraoperative arachnoidal cleavage plane as well as the postoperative motor outcome.

METHODS Clinical data were retrospectively collected from surgical cases involving patients affected by convexity, parasagittal, or falx meningiomas involving the rolandic region, who received preoperative nTMS mapping of the motor cortex (M1) and nTMS-based diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) fiber tracking of the corticospinal tract before surgery at 2 different neurosurgical centers. Surgeons’ self-reported evaluation of the impact of nTMS-based mapping on surgical strategy was analyzed. Moreover, the nTMS mapping accuracy was evaluated in comparison with intraoperative neurophysiological mapping (IONM). Lastly, we assessed the role of nTMS as well as other pre- and intraoperative parameters for predicting the patients’ motor outcome and the presence or absence of an intraoperative arachnoidal cleavage plane.

RESULTS Forty-seven patients were included in this study. The nTMS-based planning was considered useful in 89.3% of cases, and a change of the surgical strategy was observed in 42.5% of cases. The agreement of nTMS-based planning and IONM-based strategy in 35 patients was 94.2%. A new permanent motor deficit occurred in 8.5% of cases (4 of 47). A higher resting motor threshold (RMT) and the lack of an intraoperative arachnoidal cleavage plane were the only independent predictors of a poor motor outcome (p = 0.04 and p = 0.02, respectively). Moreover, a higher RMT and perilesional edema also predicted the lack of an arachnoidal cleavage plane (p = 0.01 and p = 0.03, respectively). Preoperative motor status, T2 cleft sign, contrast-enhancement pattern, and tumor volume had no predictive value.

CONCLUSIONS nTMS-based motor mapping is a useful tool for presurgical assessment of rolandic meningiomas, especially when a clear cleavage plane with M1 is not present. Moreover, the RMT can indicate the presence or absence of an intraoperative cleavage plane and predict the motor outcome, thereby helping to identify high-risk patients before surgery.


Comparison of Motor Outcome in Patients Undergoing Awake vs General Anesthesia Surgery for Brain Tumors Located Within or Adjacent to the Motor Pathways

Neurosurgery, Volume 85, Issue 3, September 2019: E470–E476

Surgical removal of intra-axial brain tumors aims at maximal tumor resection while preserving function. The potential benefit of awake craniotomy over craniotomy under general anesthesia (GA) for motor preservation is yet unknown.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the clinical outcomes of patients who underwent surgery for perirolandic tumors while either awake or under GA.

METHODS: Between 2004 and 2015, 1126 patients underwent surgical resection of newly diagnosed intra-axial tumors in a single institution. Data from 85 patients (44 awake, 41 GA) with full dataset who underwent resections for perirolandic tumors were retrospectively analyzed.

RESULTS: Identification of the motor cortex required significantly higher stimulation thresholds in anesthetized patients (9.1 ± 4 vs 6.2 ± 2.7 mA for awake patients, P = .0008). There was no group difference in the subcortical threshold for motor response used to assess the proximity of the lesion to the corticospinal (pyramidal) tract. High-grade gliomas were the most commonly treated pathology. The extent of resection and residual tumor volume were not different between groups. Postoperative motor deficits were more common in the anesthetized patients at 1 wk (P = .046), but no difference between the groups was detected at 3 mo. Patients in the GA group had a longer mean length of hospitalization (10.3 vs 6.7 d for the awake group, P = .003).

CONCLUSION: Awake craniotomy results in a better early postoperative motor outcome and shorter hospitalization compared with patients who underwent the same surgery under GA. The finding of higher cortical thresholds for the identification of the motor cortex in anesthetized patients may suggest an inhibitory effect of anesthetic agents on motor function.

The Impact of Diffusion Tensor Imaging Fiber Tracking of the Corticospinal Tract Based on Navigated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Surgery of Motor-Eloquent Brain Lesions

Neurosurgery 83:768–782, 2018

Navigated transcranialmagnetic stimulation (nTMS) enables preoperative mapping of the motor cortex (M1). The combination of nTMSwith diffusion tensor imaging fiber tracking (DTI-FT) of the corticospinal tract (CST) has been described; however, its impact on surgery of motor-eloquent lesions has not been addressed.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the impact of nTMS-basedmapping on surgery ofmotor-eloquent lesions.

METHODS: In this retrospective case-control study, we reviewed the data of patients operated for suspected motor-eloquent lesions between 2012 and 2015. The patients underwent nTMS mapping of M1 and, from 2014, nTMS-based DTI-FT of the CST. The impact on the preoperative risk/benefit analysis, surgical strategy, craniotomy size, extent of resection (EOR), and outcome were compared with a control group.

RESULTS: We included 35 patients who underwent nTMS mapping of M1 (group A), 35 patients who also underwent nTMS-based DTI-FT of the CST (group B), and a control group composed of 35 patients treated without nTMS (group C). The patients in groups A and B received smaller craniotomies (P = .01; P = .001), had less postoperative seizures (P = .02), and a better postoperativemotor performance (P=.04) and Karnofsky Performance Status (P=.009) than the controls. Group B exhibited an improved risk/benefit analysis (P=.006), an increased EOR of nTMS-negative lesions in absence of preoperative motor deficits (P = .01), and less motor and Karnofsky Performance Status worsening in case of preoperative motor deficits (P = .02, P = .03) than group A.

CONCLUSION: nTMS-based mapping enables a tailored surgical approach for motor eloquent lesions. It may improve the risk/benefit analysis, EOR and outcome, particularly when nTMS-based DTI-FT is performed.

Fractal Analysis for the Differentiation of Brain Tumors Using 3-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Susceptibility-Weighted Imaging

Neurosurgery 79:839–846, 2016

Susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) of brain tumors provides information about neoplastic vasculature and intratumoral micro- and macrobleedings. Low- and high-grade gliomas can be distinguished by SWI due to their different vascular characteristics. Fractal analysis allows for quantification of these radiological differences by a computer-based morphological assessment of SWI patterns.

OBJECTIVE: To show the feasibility of SWI analysis on 3-T magnetic resonance imaging to distinguish different kinds of brain tumors.

METHODS: Seventy-eight patients affected by brain tumors of different histopathology (low- and high-grade gliomas, metastases, meningiomas, lymphomas) were included. All patients underwent preoperative 3-T magnetic resonance imaging including SWI, on which the lesions were contoured. The images underwent automated computation, extracting 2 quantitative parameters: the volume fraction of SWI signals within the tumors (signal ratio) and the morphological self-similar features (fractal dimension [FD]). The results were then correlated with each histopathological type of tumor.

RESULTS: Signal ratio and FD were able to differentiate low-grade gliomas from grade III and IV gliomas, metastases, and meningiomas (P , .05). FD was statistically different between lymphomas and high-grade gliomas (P , .05). A receiver-operating characteristic analysis showed that the optimal cutoff value for differentiating low- from highgrade gliomas was 1.75 for FD (sensitivity, 81%; specificity, 89%) and 0.03 for signal ratio (sensitivity, 80%; specificity, 86%).

CONCLUSION: FD of SWI on 3-T magnetic resonance imaging is a novel image biomarker for glioma grading and brain tumor characterization. Computational models offer promising results that may improve diagnosis and open perspectives in the radiological assessment of brain tumors.

Anticonvulsant prophylaxis for brain tumor surgery

Seizures frequency

J Neurosurg 121:1139–1147, 2014

Patients who undergo craniotomy for brain tumor resection are prone to experiencing seizures, which can have debilitating medical, neurological, and psychosocial effects.

A controversial issue in neurosurgery is the common practice of administering perioperative anticonvulsant prophylaxis to these patients despite a paucity of supporting data in the literature. The foreseeable benefits of this strategy must be balanced against potential adverse effects and interactions with critical medications such as chemotherapeutic agents and corticosteroids. Multiple disparate metaanalyses have been published on this topic but have not been applied into clinical practice, and, instead, personal preference frequently determines practice patterns in this area of management.

Therefore, to select the current best available evidence to guide clinical decision making, the literature was evaluated to identify meta-analyses that investigated the efficacy and/or safety of anticonvulsant prophylaxis in this patient population. Six meta-analyses published between 1996 and 2011 were included in the present study.

The Quality of Reporting of Meta-analyses and Oxman-Guyatt methodological quality assessment tools were used to score these meta-analyses, and the Jadad decision algorithm was applied to determine the highest-quality meta-analysis. According to this analysis, 2 metaanalyses were deemed to be the current best available evidence, both of which conclude that prophylactic treatment does not improve seizure control in these patients.

Therefore, this management strategy should not be routinely used.

Intraoperative optical imaging for functional mapping

Intraoperative optical imaging for functional mapping

J Neurosurg 119:853–863, 2013

Intraoperative optical imaging (IOI) is an experimental technique used for visualizing functional brain areas after surgical exposure of the cerebral cortex. This technique identifies areas of local changes in blood volume and oxygenation caused by stimulation of specific brain functions. The authors describe a new IOI method, including innovative data analysis, that can facilitate intraoperative functional imaging on a routine basis. To evaluate the reliability and validity of this approach, they used the new IOI method to demonstrate visualization of the median nerve area of the somatosensory cortex.

Methods. In 41 patients with tumor lesions adjacent to the postcentral gyrus, lesions were surgically removed by using IOI during stimulation of the contralateral median nerve. Optical properties of the cortical tissue were measured with a sensitive camera system connected to a surgical microscope. Imaging was performed by using 9 cycles of alternating prolonged stimulation and rest periods of 30 seconds. Intraoperative optical imaging was based on blood volume changes detected by using a filter at an isosbestic wavelength (delta = 568 nm). A spectral analysis algorithm was used to improve computation of the activity maps. Movement artifacts were compensated for by an elastic registration algorithm. For validation, intraoperative conduction of the phase reversal over the central sulcus and postoperative evaluation of the craniotomy site were used.

Results. The new method and analysis enabled significant differentiation (p < 0.005) between functional and nonfunctional tissue. The identification and visualization of functionally intact somatosensory cortex was highly reliable; sensitivity was 94.4% and specificity was almost 100%. The surgeon was provided with a 2D high-resolution activity map within 12 minutes. No method-related side effects occurred in any of the 41 patients.

Conclusions. The authors’ new approach makes IOI a contact-free and label-free optical technique that can be used safely in a routine clinical setup. Intraoperative optical imaging can be used as an alternative to other methods for the identification of sensory cortex areas and offers the added benefit of a high-resolution map of functional activity. It has great potential for visualizing and monitoring additional specific functional brain areas such as the visual, motor, and speech cortex. A prospective national multicenter clinical trial is currently being planned.

Noninvasive Language Mapping in Patients With Epilepsy or Brain Tumors


Neurosurgery 72:555–565, 2013

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has become part of routine brain mapping in patients with epilepsy or tumor undergoing resective surgery. However, robust localization of crucial functional areas is required.

OBJECTIVE: To establish a simple, short fMRI task that reliably localizes crucial language areas in individual patients who undergo respective surgery.

METHODS: fMRI was measured during an 8-minute auditory semantic decision task in 28 healthy controls and 35 consecutive patients who had focal epilepsy or a brain tumor. Nineteen underwent resective surgery. Group and individual analyses were performed. Results in patients were compared with postsurgical language outcome and electrocortical stimulation when available.

RESULTS: fMRI activations concordant with the anterior and posterior language areas were found in 96% and 89% of the controls, respectively. The anterior and posterior language areas were both activated in 93% of the patients. These results were concordant with electrocortical stimulation results in 5 patients. Transient postsurgical language deficits were found in 2 patients in whom surgery was performed in the vicinity of the fMRI activations or who had postsurgical complications implicating areas of fMRI activations.

CONCLUSION: The proposed fast fMRI language protocol reliably localized the most relevant language areas in individual subjects. It appears to be a valuable complementary tool for surgical planning of epileptogenic foci and of brain tumors.

Assessing the functional status of the motor system in brain tumor patients using transcranial magnetic stimulation

Acta Neurochir (2012) 154:2075–2081

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is being used in the pre-operative diagnostics of patients with tumors in or near the motor cortex. Although the main purpose of TMS in such patients is to map the functional areas of the motor cortex in spatial relation to the tumor, TMS also provides some numerical neurophysiological measurements of the functional status of the patient’s motor system. The aim of this paper is to provide reference values for these neurophysiological measurements from a large and varied clinical sample.

Methods TMS was used in the pre-operative work-up of patients with various types of tumors in or near the motor cortex during a 3-year period. Data was collected prospectively in 100 patients, yet this is a post hoc report.

Results Patient characteristics had no influence on the neurophysiological parameters. The response latency time was almost never different in the tumorous versus healthy hemisphere, so clinicians should be suspicious if they find interhemispheric differences for latency. A high interhemispheric ratio of resting motor threshold (RMT) or a low interhemispheric ratio of motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitude appear to suggest immanent deterioration of the patient’s motor status.

Conclusion In addition to topographic cortical mapping, TMS also serves as a neurophysiological assessment of the functional status of the patient’s motor system. The results presented here provide clinicians with a set of reference values to contextualize findings in their own tumor patients. Further research is still needed to better understand the full clinical relevance of these neurophysiological parameters.

The Use of Diffusion Tensor Images of the Corticospinal Tract in Intrinsic Brain Tumor Surgery: A Comparison With Direct Subcortical Stimulation

Neurosurgery 71:331–340, 2012 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31825b1c18

Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is now widely used in neurosurgery to preoperatively delineate the course of the pyramidal tract.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the accuracy of the method by comparison with subcortical electrical stimulation and to evaluate the influence of the distance of the pyramidal tract from the tumor on the resection extent and postoperative clinical deficits.

METHODS: A diffusion tensor imaging depiction of the pyramidal tract was used in preoperative planning and intraoperative navigation in 72 cases. In 36 cases, subcortical electrical stimulation was used during the resection. The preoperative tumor-to-tract distance was compared with the stimulation result, the extent of resection, and the short-term postoperative course.

RESULTS: A significant nonlinear relationship between the tract-to-tumor distance and the probability of a motor response to subcortical stimulation was observed. The largest preoperatively measured tumor-to-tract distance with a positive stimulation result was 8 mm. Moreover, we observed a trend toward transient postoperative motor deterioration in patients with tumors close to the pyramidal tract. Resection extent was not significantly affected by the tumor-to-tract distance.

CONCLUSION: Despite methodological obstacles, reasonable accuracy of the diffusion tensor imaging reconstructions of the pyramidal tracts was confirmed by our study. The occurrence of transient postoperative motor deterioration is higher in patients with tumors located close to the pyramidal tract.