Functional neuroimaging has improved pre-planning of surgery in eloquent cortical areas, but remains unable to map white matter. Thus, tumour resection in functional subcortical regions still presents a high risk of sequelae. The authors successfully used intraoperative electrical stimulations to perform subcortical language pathway mapping in order to avoid postoperative definitive deficit, and correlated these functional findings with the anatomical location of the eloquent bundles detected using postoperative MRI. At the same time, this also improved knowledge of fibre connectivity. Thirty patients harbouring a cortico-subcortical low-grade glioma in the left dominant hemisphere were operated on whilst awake using intraoperative electrical functional mapping during surgical resection. Language cortical sites and subcortical pathways were clearly identified and preserved in the 30 cases. The anatomo-functional correlations between data obtained using intraoperative subcortical mapping and postoperative MRI revealed the existence in all patients of common pathways which seem essential to language. This was shown by inducing reproducible speech disturbances during stimulations as follows: the subcallosal fasciculus (initiation disorders), the periventricular white matter (dysarthria), the arcuate fasciculus and the insular connections (anomia). Clinically, all patients except three presented a transient postoperative dysphasia, which resolved within 3 months. On control MRI, 14 resections were total and 16 subtotal due to infiltration of functional bundles described above. It is recommended that the combination of the techniques as described could prove ideal for future non-invasive reliable subcortical mapping both in healthy volunteers and in patients harbouring a (cortico)subcortical lesion in order to optimize surgical pre-planning.
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