OBJECTIVE: To evaluate diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)-based functional neuronavigation in surgery of cerebral gliomas with pyramidal tract (PT) involvement with respect to both perioperative assessment and follow-up outcome.
METHODS: A prospective, randomized controlled study was conducted between 2001 and 2005. A consecutive series of 238 eligible patients with initial imaging diagnosis of cerebral gliomas involving PTs were randomized into study (n = 118) and control (n = 120) groups. The study cases underwent DTI and three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging scans. The maps of fractional anisotropy were calculated for PT mapping. Both three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging data sets and fractional anisotropy maps were integrated by rigid registration, after which the tumor and adjacent PT were segmented and reconstructed for presurgical planning and intraoperative guidance. The control cases were operated on using routine neuronavigation.
RESULTS: There was a trend for high-grade gliomas (HGGs) in the study group to be more likely to achieve gross total resection (74.4 versus 33.3%, P < 0.001). There was no significant difference of low-grade gliomas resection between the two groups. Postoperative motor deterioration occurred in 32.8% of control cases, whereas it occurred in only 15.3% of the study cases (P < 0.001). The 6-month Karnofsky Performance Scale score of study cases was significantly higher than that of control cases (86 ± 20 versus 74 ± 28 overall, P < 0.001; 93 ± 10 versus 86 ± 17 for low-grade gliomas, P = 0.013; and 77 ± 27 versus 53 ± 32 for HGGs, P = 0.001). For 81 HGGs, the median survival of study cases was 21.2 months (95% confidence interval, 14.1–28.3 mo) compared with 14.0 months (95% confidence interval, 10.2–17.8 mo) of control cases (P = 0.048). The estimated hazard ratio for the effect of DTI-based functional neuronavigation was 0.570, representing a 43.0% reduction in the risk of death.
CONCLUSION: DTI-based functional neuronavigation contributes to maximal safe resection of cerebral gliomas with PT involvement, thereby decreasing postoperative motor deficits for both HGGs and low-grade gliomas while increasing high-quality survival for HGGs.