Object: To investigate the utility of [15O]H2O positron emission tomography (PET) activation studies in the presurgical mapping of primary somatosensory cortex, the authors compared the magnitude and location of activation foci obtained using PET scanning with the results of intraoperative cortical stimulation (ICS).
Methods: The authors used PET scanning and vibrotactile stimulation (of the face, hand, or foot) to localize the primary somatosensory cortex before surgical resection of mass lesions or epileptogenic foci affecting the central area in 20 patients. With the aid of image-guided surgical systems, the locations of significant activation foci on PET scanning were compared with those of positive ICS performed at craniotomy after the patient had received a local anesthetic agent. In addition, the relationship between the magnitude and statistical significance of blood flow changes and the presence of positive ICS was examined. In 22 (95.6%) of 23 statistically significant (p < 0.05) PET activation foci, spatially concordant sites on ICS were also observed. Intraoperative cortical stimulation was positive in 40% of the PET activation studies that did not result in statistically significant activation. In the patients showing these results, there was a clearly identifiable t-statistic peak that was spatially concordant with the site of positive ICS in the sensorimotor area. All PET activation foci with a t statistic greater than 4.75 were associated with spatially concordant sites of positive ICS. All PET activation foci with a t statistic less than 3.2 were associated with negative ICS.
Conclusions: Positron emission tomography is an accurate method for mapping the primary somatosensory cortex before surgery. The need for ICS, which requires local anesthesia, may be eliminated when PET foci with high (> 4.75) or low (< 3.20) t-statistic peaks are elicited by vibrotactile stimulation.