Restorative neurosurgery of the cortex: resections of pathologies of the central area can improve preexisting motor deficits

Neurosurg Rev (2012) 35:277–286. DOI 10.1007/s10143-011-0361-2

Different pathologies such as tumors or focal dysplasias can be removed from eloquent areas without subsequent functional deficits. What has not yet been established is the removal of structural abnormalities in sensorimotor area associated with substantial neurological deficits performed in order to accomplish functional improvement. Neurosurgical resections in highly eloquent areas thus hold promise to open a new field achievement of functional restitution even in cases with long-standing deficits.

We present four exemplary cases where the removal of different structural abnormalities led to an impressive improvement of motor deficits. One patient had bilateral ischemic lesion resulting from perinatal hypoxia, one cavernoma, and two focal cortical dysplasias. All presented with motor or sensorimotor deficits and three had long-standing therapy refractory focal seizures. The extent of safe lesionectomy was determined using fMRI, fiber tracking, and PET studies and performed with intraoperative functional neuronavigation guidance and cortical stimulation. The achievement of the planned amount of resection was verified with an intraoperative MR examination.

New persisting neurological deficits after surgery were not registered. One patient had temporary worsening of the right hand weakness that rapidly resolved. One patient was completely seizure free, and in two patients, the seizures’ frequency, duration, and severity were significantly reduced. The preoperatively disturbed motor function improved in all four cases in the course of days or weeks.

In summary, pathological processes affecting the sensorimotor area may cause focal seizures and/or compromise sensorimotor functions. Lesionectomy may accomplish not only the amelioration of focal seizures but also substantial functional improvement.