Awake surgery for incidental WHO grade II gliomas involving eloquent areas

Hugues Duffau
Acta Neurochirurgica 2012, 154 (4): 575-84; discussion 584

BACKGROUND: WHO grade II glioma (G2G) is a pre-malignant tumor, usually revealed by seizures in young patients living normal lives. G2G grows constantly and will inevitably become anaplastic. Surgical resection significantly increases the overall survival by delaying malignant transformation. Recently, a similar natural history was demonstrated in a patient with incidental G2G, with continuous growth and risk of anaplasia. Here, the aim was to study for the first time the functional results and extent of resection in a prospective series of patients who underwent resection for incidental G2G within eloquent areas.

METHOD: G2G involving functional regions in the left dominant hemisphere was incidentally diagnosed in 11 asymptomatic patients. Resection was achieved in all cases after demonstration of a volumetric increase on serial MRIs. Intraoperative awake mapping was performed in the 11 patients.

FINDINGS: There were no cases of mortality or permanent postoperative deficit. A subtotal, total or even "supratotal" resection was achieved in the 11 cases, with no partial resections. All patients resumed normal social and professional lives, with no seizures (KPS 100). Due to slow tumor re-growth in three patients with subtotal resection, adjuvant chemotherapy was administrated in two cases and radiotherapy in one. With a mean follow-up of 40 months since surgery, there was no anaplastic transformation.

CONCLUSION: These results show that surgery can be considered in incidental G2G, even in critical areas, with a minimal risk and optimal resection, thanks to intraoperative mapping. Such findings raise the question of an early detection.

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