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.
Awake surgery, DTI, Diffusion tractography, Glioma, Stimulation