Diffusion tractography for awake craniotomy: accuracy and factors affecting specificity
Voets NL., Pretorius P., Birch MD., Apostolopoulos V., Stacey R., Plaha P.
Abstract Introduction Despite evidence of correspondence with intraoperative stimulation, there remains limited data on MRI diffusion tractography (DT)’s sensitivity to predict morbidity after neurosurgical oncology treatment. Our aims were: (1) evaluate DT against subcortical stimulation mapping and performance changes during and after awake neurosurgery; (2) evaluate utility of early post-operative DT to predict recovery from post-surgical deficits. Methods We retrospectively reviewed our first 100 awake neurosurgery procedures using DT- neuronavigation. Intra-operative stimulation and performance outcomes were assessed to classify DT predictions for sensitivity and specificity calculations. Post-operative DT data, available in 51 patients, were inspected for tract damage. Results 91 adult brain tumor patients (mean 49.2 years, 43 women) underwent 100 awake surgeries with subcortical stimulation between 2014 and 2019. Sensitivity and specificity of pre-operative DT predictions were 92.2% and 69.2%, varying among tracts. Post-operative deficits occurred after 41 procedures (39%), but were prolonged (> 3 months) in only 4 patients (4%). Post-operative DT in general confirmed surgical preservation of tracts. Post-operative DT anticipated complete recovery in a patient with supplementary motor area syndrome, and indicated infarct-related damage to corticospinal fibers associated with delayed, partial recovery in a second patient. Conclusions Pre-operative DT provided very accurate predictions of the spatial location of tracts in relation to a tumor. As expected, however, the presence of a tract did not inform its functional status, resulting in variable DT specificity among individual tracts. While prolonged deficits were rare, DT in the immediate post-operative period offered additional potential to monitor neurological deficits and anticipate recovery potential.