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Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 2015 December;59(4):361-71


lingua: Inglese

Resecting diffuse low-grade gliomas to the boundaries of brain functions: a new concept in surgical neuro-oncology

Duffau H. 1, 2

1 Department of Neurosurgery, Gui de Chauliac Hospital, Montpellier University Medical Center, Montpellier, France; 2 Institute for Neuroscience of Montpellier, INSERM U1051, Team “Plasticity of Central Nervous System, Human Stem Cells and Glial Tumors”, Saint Eloi Hospital, Montpellier University Medical Center, Montpellier, France


The traditional dilemma making surgery for diffuse low-grade gliomas (DLGGs) challenging is underlain by the need to optimize tumor resection in order to significantly increase survival versus the risk of permanent neurological morbidity. Development of neuroimaging led neurosurgeons to achieve tumorectomy according to the oncological limits provided by preoperative or intraoperative structural and metabolic imaging. However, this principle is not coherent, neither with the infiltrative nature of DLGGs nor with the limited resolution of current neuroimaging. Indeed, despite technical advances, MRI still underestimates the actual spatial extent of gliomas, since tumoral cells are present several millimeters to centimeters beyond the area of signal abnormalities. Furthermore, cortical and subcortical structures may be still crucial for brain functions despite their invasion by this diffuse tumoral disease. Finally, the lack of reliability of functional MRI has also been demonstrated. Therefore, to talk about “maximal safe resection” based upon neuroimaging is a non-sense, because oncological MRI does not show the tumor and functional MRI does not show critical neural pathways. This review proposes an original concept in neuro-oncological surgery, i.e. to resect DLGG to the boundaries of brain functions, thanks to intraoperative electrical mapping performed in awake patients. This paradigmatic shift from image-guided resection to functional mapping-guided resection, based upon an accurate study of brain connectomics and neuroplasticity in each patient throughout tumor removal has permitted to solve the classical dilemma, by increasing both survival and quality of life in DLGG patients. With this in mind, brain surgeons should also be neuroscientists.

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