Surgery of insular and paralimbic diffuse low-grade gliomas: technical considerations


J Neurooncol (2016) 130:289–298

Once considered a ‘‘no man’s land’’ especially when invaded by a diffuse low grade glioma (DLGG), the insula remains to this day a surgical challenge. Surgery for insular DLGG involves consideration of its hidden location under the potentially eloquent operculae, the proximity to vascular tree and high density of functions not only in the insular cortex but also in the white fiber pathways passing under the insular lobe. The natural history of DLGG and the potential benefits and consequences of the surgical approach also need a close look.

In the last decade, a better knowledge of the functional anatomy and connectivity of this region, as well as an improvement in surgical techniques as direct stimulation mapping, combined with an increasing literature showing a favorable impact of maximal resection for DLGG, were deciding factors in the paradigmatic shift from expectative treatment to early surgical management.

Here, our goal is to discuss the structural and functional aspects of the insula, the specificities of insular and paralimbic DLGG by emphasizing the technical considerations of surgery in this region, as well as its oncological and functional outcomes. In summary, this new strategy based upon early maximal safe surgical resection showed both oncological benefit and preservation of quality of life—or even an improvement thanks to epilepsy relief.