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Clinical significance of preoperative fibre-tracking to preserve the affected pyramidal tracts during resection of brain tumours in patients with preoperative motor weakness
  1. Nobuhiro Mikuni1,
  2. Tsutomu Okada2,
  3. Rei Enatsu1,
  4. Yukio Miki2,
  5. Shin-ichi Urayama3,
  6. Jun A Takahashi1,
  7. Kazuhiko Nozaki1,
  8. Hidenao Fukuyama3,
  9. Nobuo Hashimoto1
  1. 1Department of Neurosurgery, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan
  2. 2Department of Diagnostic Imaging and Nuclear Medicine, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan
  3. 3Human Brain Research Centre, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Nobuhiro Mikuni
 Department of Neurosurgery, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, 54 Kawahara-cho, Shogoin, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 6068507, Japan; mikunin{at}


Objective: To clarify the clinical usefulness of preoperative fibre-tracking in affected pyramidal tracts for intraoperative monitoring during the removal of brain tumours from patients with motor weakness.

Methods: We operated on 10 patients with mild to moderate motor weakness caused by brain tumours located near the pyramidal tracts under local anaesthesia. Before surgery, we performed fibre-tracking imaging of the pyramidal tracts and then transferred this information to the neuronavigation system. During removal of the tumour, motor function was evaluated with motor evoked potentials elicited by cortical/subcortical electrical stimulation and with voluntary movement.

Results: In eight patients, the locations of the pyramidal tracts were estimated preoperatively by fibre-tracking; motor evoked potentials were elicited on the motor cortex and subcortex close to the predicted pyramidal tracts. In the remaining two patients, in which fibre-tracking of the pyramidal tracts revealed their disruption surrounding the tumour, cortical/subcortical electrical stimulation did not elicit responses clinically sufficient to monitor motor function. In all cases, voluntary movement with mild to moderate motor weakness was extensively evaluated during surgery and was successfully preserved postoperatively with appropriate tumour resection.

Conclusions: Preoperative fibre-tracking could predict the clinical usefulness of intraoperative electrical stimulation of the motor cortex and subcortical fibres (ie, pyramidal tracts) to preserve affected motor function during removal of brain tumours. In patients for whom fibre-tracking failed preoperatively, awake surgery is more appropriate to evaluate and preserve moderately impaired muscle strength.

  • DTI, diffusion tensor imaging
  • fMRI, functional MRI
  • MEG, magnetoencephalography
  • MEP, motor evoked potential
  • MPRAGE, magnetisation prepared rapid gradient echo
  • ROI, region of interest
  • SEP, somatosensory evoked potential

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  • Published Online First 1 March 2007

  • Competing interests: None.