Acta Neurochir (2015) 157:577–588
Awake craniotomy is currently considered the gold standard to maximise the extent of resection and to minimise postoperative deficits in patients with supratentorial tumours near eloquent areas. In addition to direct electrical stimulation (DES) of the cortex, intraoperative subcortical mapping is increasingly used as it optimises the benefit-to-risk ratio by decreasing (permanent) postoperative neurological deficits. However, only little attention has been paid to subcortical mapping procedures and especially the tasks to be used.
Methods In this article, language and non-language testing at the subcortical level is described and discussed by means of three right-handed cases with a glioma in the left hemisphere. To assess subcortical functions, a multimodal test named the Quick Mixed Test was developed (QMT). Pre-, intra- and postoperative test results are described and discussed in detail.
Results Based on the analysis of these preliminary observations, a number of clinical recommendations for intraoperative subcortical mapping may be made: (1) the selection of a set of language and non-language tests needs to be tailored according to the functional corticosubcortical regions affected by the tumoral lesion and the patient’s characteristics (job/hobby/daily life activities); (2) language and non-language tests should be presented in a multimodal and alternating way during subcortical stimulation since this approach enables screening various functions simultaneously or in a very short period of time and (3) spontaneous speech is a useful adjunct to standardised tests since it most resembles daily life conversation.
Conclusion Administration of multimodal tests during subcortical DES such as the experimental QMT may facilitate identification of eloquent pathways leading to avoidance of permanent neurological impairments.