Minimally Invasive Surgery of Deep-Seated Brain Lesions Using Tubular Retractors and Navigated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation-Based Diffusion Tensor Imaging Tractography Guidance: The Minefield Paradigm

Operative Neurosurgery 24:656–664, 2023

Surgical treatment of deep-seated brain lesions is a major challenge for neurosurgeons. Recently, tubular retractors have been used to help neurosurgeons in achieving the targeting and resection of deep lesions.

OBJECTIVE: To describe a novel surgical approach based on the combination of tubular retractors and preoperative mapping by navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) and nTMS-based diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography for the safe resection of deep-seated lesions.

METHODS: Ten consecutive patients affected by deep-seated brain lesions close to eloquent motor/language/visual pathways underwent preoperative nTMS mapping of motor/language cortical areas and nTMS-based DTI tractography of adjacent eloquent white matter tracts, including optic radiations. The nTMS-based information was used to plan the optimal surgical trajectory and to guide the insertion of tubular retractors within the brain parenchyma without causing injury to the eloquent cortical and subcortical structures. After surgery, all patients underwent a new nTMS-based DTI tractography of fascicles close to the tumor to verify their structural integrity.

RESULTS: Gross total resection was achieved in 8 cases, subtotal resection in 1 case, and a biopsy in 1 case. No new postoperative deficits were observed, except in 1 case where a visual field defect due to injury to the optic radiations occurred. Postoperative nTMS-based DTI tractography showed the integrity of the subcortical fascicles crossed by tubular retractors trajectory in 9 cases.

CONCLUSION: The novel strategy combining tubular retractors with functional nTMS-based preoperative mapping enables a safe microsurgical resection of deep-seated lesions through the preservation of eloquent cortical areas and subcortical fascicles, thus reducing the risk of new permanent deficits.

Altered Motor Excitability in Patients With Diffuse Gliomas Involving Motor Eloquent Areas: The Impact of Tumor Grading

Neurosurgery 88( 1) 2021: 183–192

Diffuse gliomas have an increased biological aggressiveness across the World Health Organization (WHO) grading system. The implications of glioma grading on the primary motor cortex (M1)-corticospinal tract (CST) excitability is unknown.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the excitability of the motor pathway with navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS).

METHODS: Retrospective cohort study of patients admitted for surgery with diffuse gliomas within motor eloquent areas. Demographic, clinical, and nTMS-related variables were collected. The Cortical Excitability Score (CES 0 to 2 according to the number of abnormal interhemispheric resting motor threshold (RMT) ratios) was calculated for patients where bilateral upper and lower limb mapping was performed.

RESULTS: A total of 45 patients were included: 9 patients had a low-grade glioma and 36 patients had a high-grade glioma. The unadjusted analysis revealed an increase in the latency of the motor evoked potential of the lower limb with an increase of theWHOgrade (P = .038). The adjusted analysis confirmed this finding (P = .013) and showed a relation between the increase in the WHO and a decreased RMT (P = .037) of the motor evoked responses in the lower limb.When CES was calculated, an increase in the score was related with an increase in the WHO grade (unadjusted analysis—P = .0001; adjusted analysis— P = .001) and in isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) wild-type tumors (unadjusted analysis— P = .020).

CONCLUSION: An increase in the WHO grading system and IDH wild-type tumors are associated with an abnormal excitability of the motor eloquent areas in patients with diffuse gliomas.

NTMS mapping of non-primary motor areas in brain tumour patients and healthy volunteers

Acta Neurochirurgica (2020) 162:407–416

Navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) has been increasingly used for presurgical cortical mapping of the primary motor cortex (M1) but remains controversial for the evaluation of non-primary motor areas (NPMA). This study investigates clinical and neurophysiological parameters in brain tumour patients and healthy volunteers to decide whether singlepulse biphasic nTMS allows to reliably elicite MEP outside from M1 or not.

Materials and methods Twelve brain tumour patients and six healthy volunteers underwent M1 nTMS mapping. NPMA nTMS mapping followed using 120% and 150% M1 resting motor threshold (RMT) stimulation intensity. Spearman’s correlation analysis tested the association of clinical and neurophysiological parameters between M1 and NPMA mapping.

Results A total of 88.81% of nTMS stimulations in NPMA in patients/83.87% in healthy volunteers in patients/83.87% in healthy volunteers did not result in MEPs ≥ 50 μV. Positive nTMS mapping in NPMA correlated with higher stimulation intensity and larger M1 areas in patients (120% M1 RMT SI p = 0.005/150%M1 RMT SI p = 0.198).

Conclusion Our findings indicate that in case of positive nTMS mapping in NPMA, MEPs originate mostly from M1. For future studies, MEP parameters and TMS coil rotation should be studied closely to assess the risk for postoperative motor deterioration.

The impact of nTMS mapping on treatment of brain AVMs

Acta Neurochirurgica (2018) 160:567–578

The treatment of brain arteriovenous malformations (BAVMs) is still contrarily discussed. Despite the debatable results of the ARUBA trial, most BAVMs still require treatment depending on the Spetzler-Martin (SM) grading. Since size is measurable and venous drainage is visible, the determination of eloquence is comparably crucial but not fully objective. The present bicentric cohort study aims to examine the influence of preoperative navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) motor and language mapping data on decision-making for or against surgical treatment of BAVMs.

Methods The influence of data from nTMS on decision-making for or against treatment of BAVMs was examined by confirming/falsifying presumed motor or language eloquence.

Results The results of nTMS mappings changed the SM grading in nine cases. In six cases, the SM grading changed to a lower grade (= falsified eloquence); in three cases, the SM grading changed to a higher grade due to nTMS mappings (= unexpected eloquence). Out of all 34 cases, indication for surgery was supported by nTMS mappings in 15 cases (7 motors, 8 languages). In six cases, the decision against surgery was made based on nTMS mappings (three motors, three languages).

Conclusion In 21 of 34 cases (62%), nTMS was a supportive argument. We could show that nTMS motor and language data can be used for a more objective decision-making regarding the treatment of BAVMs and for a more detailed SM grading regarding the rating of eloquence.