Brain mapping in tumors: Intraoperative or extraoperative?
In nontumoral epilepsy surgery, the main goal for all preoperative investigation is to first determine the epileptogenic zone, and then to analyze its relation to eloquent cortex, in order to control seizures while avoiding adverse postoperative neurologic outcome. To this end, in addition to neuropsychological assessment, functional neuroimaging and scalp electroencephalography, extraoperative recording, and electrical mapping, especially using subdural strip- or grid-electrodes, has been reported extensively. Nonetheless, in tumoral epilepsy surgery, the rationale is different. Indeed, the first aim is rather to maximize the extent of tumor resection while minimizing postsurgical morbidity, in order to increase the median survival as well as to preserve quality of life. As a consequence, as frequently seen in infiltrating tumors such as gliomas, where these lesions not only grow but also migrate along white matter tracts, the resection should be performed according to functional boundaries both at cortical and subcortical levels. With this in mind, extraoperative mapping by strips/grids is often not sufficient in tumoral surgery, since in essence, it allows study of the cortex but cannot map subcortical pathways. Therefore, intraoperative electrostimulation mapping, especially in awake patients, is more appropriate in tumor surgery, because this technique allows real-time detection of areas crucial for cerebral functions-eloquent cortex and fibers-throughout the resection. In summary, rather than choosing one or the other of different mapping techniques, methodology should be adapted to each pathology, that is, extraoperative mapping in nontumoral epilepsy surgery and intraoperative mapping in tumoral surgery.