Resection of supratentorial gliomas: the need to merge microsurgical technical cornerstones with modern functional mapping concepts. An overview


Although surgery is not curative for the majority of intracranial gliomas, radical resection has been demonstrated to influence survival and delay tumor progression. Because gliomas are very frequently located in eloquent or more generally critical areas, surgeons must always balance the maximizing resection with the need to preserve neurological function. In this overview, we tried to summarize the recent literature and our personal experience about (1) the benefits and limits of using preoperative anatomical and functional neuroimaging (anatomical MRI, DTI fiber tracking, and functional MRI), (2) the issues to consider in planning the surgical strategy, (3) the need to thoroughly understand microsurgical techniques that enable a maximal resection (subpial dissection, vascular manipulation, etc.), (4) the importance of individualizing surgical strategy especially in patients with gliomas in eloquent areas (the role of neuropsychological evaluation in redefining eloquent and non-eloquent areas), and (5) how to use intraoperative mapping techniques and understand why and when to use them. Through this paper, the reader should become more familiar with a comprehensive panel of techniques and methodologies but more importantly become aware that these recent technical advances facilitate a conceptual change from classical surgical paradigms toward a more patient-specific approach.

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Correspondence to Giannantonio Spena.

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Antonella Castellano, Milan, Italy

This is an interesting overview of the current armamentarium the neurosurgeon is provided with in the care process of patients with intracranial gliomas. As widely illustrated by the authors, different tools are available at every stage of the management in order to enhance tumor resection while preserving brain functions.

The main issue regarding such an extensive amount of techniques and methodologies, along with surgeon and centre expertise, is whether any of those tools is more relevant than others, and which should be the hierarchy, if any could ever be established. As an example, functional imaging techniques such as fMRI and diffusion tractography can give precious and meaningful insights about the anatomo-functional organization at a single patient level; however, a deep knowledge of all the technical issues and the reliability of these data is mandatory to correctly use them in the perioperative and intraoperative setting. It should be kept in mind that these techniques cannot replace intraoperative stimulation in surgery of eloquent areas; they should be combined to improve subcortical mapping. Moreover, a thorough analysis on the impact of all these methodologies on the patient’s outcome, appropriately depicted and recorded, is mandatory and it should be pursued in every investigation on the topic.

The argument on the actual surgical strategies to be employed in glioma treatment gained interest. It has to be noted how the surgeon still represents the fulcrum of distinct tools, which must be mastered to provide the patient with the state-of-the-art care. In this setting, the appropriate performance of the surgical gestures has not to be minimized or neglected, since it represents the executive momentum where the preoperative and intraoperative data should merge to result effective for the patient.

Finally, this review could be regarded as a valuable depiction of the landscape which a neurosurgeon in training should deal with and has to be ready to learn for treatment of patients harboring a glioma.

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Spena, G., Panciani, P.P. & Fontanella, M.M. Resection of supratentorial gliomas: the need to merge microsurgical technical cornerstones with modern functional mapping concepts. An overview. Neurosurg Rev 38, 59–70 (2015).

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  • Brain neoplasms
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Electric stimulation
  • Quality of life
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Gliomas