Intra-operative direct electrical stimulations of the central nervous system: the Salpêtrière experience with 60 patients

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 1999;141(11):1157-67. doi: 10.1007/s007010050413.


Indications of surgical treatment for lesions in the central nervous system depend on the risk of a definitive neurological deficit, related to the benefit of resection. Detection of eloquent areas is then necessary because of major individual variability. Neuro-imaging functional techniques are in development and are beginning to be efficient for cortical sensorymotor mapping, but still lack sensitivity and specificity for language mapping, and remain unable to give real-time data during surgery and to perform sub-cortical mapping. The more precise and reliable method of functional mapping is represented by the intra-operative direct electrical stimulations (DES), which allow identification and preservation of essential pathways for motricity, sensibility and language, at each level of the central nervous system (cortico-subcortical). We report our experience of DES in the surgery of tumours and vascular malformations located in supra-tentorial brain eloquent areas, with a consecutive series of 60 patients operated on under general or local anaesthesia, from November 1996 until May 1999 in our department at La Salpêtrière Hospital. Presenting symptoms in the 60 subjects (39 males, 21 females, mean age: 45 years) were seizures in 37 cases with normal clinical examination, and mild neurological deficit in 29 cases. MRI showed 60 supra-tentorial brain lesions: 30 precentral, 12 postcentral, 14 perisylvian in the dominant hemisphere, 4 deep-seated. All subjects underwent surgical resection using DES, with supratentorial cortico-subcortical mapping under general anaesthesia for motor areas detection in 43 cases and under local anaesthesia for sensori-motor and/or language tasks in 17 cases. The final histological diagnosis was 44 gliomas (31 low-grade and 13 high-grade), 9 metastasis, 3 cavernomas, 4 arteriovenous malformations (AVM). Resection was total or subtotal in 52 cases (87%) and partial in 8 cases (13%). 29 patients had no post-operative deficit, while the other 31 patients were impaired post-operatively, with in all cases, except 3, a complete recovery delayed for 15 days to 3 months (overall morbidity: 5%). The median follow up was 14 months. Intra-operative direct electrical stimulations of the central nervous system constitute a reliable, precise and safe method, allowing the realization of a functional mapping useful for all operations of lesions located in eloquent areas. This technique allows a minimization of definitive post-operative neurological deficit, and concurrently an improvement in the quality of resection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain / surgery
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping / instrumentation*
  • Brain Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glioma / physiopathology
  • Glioma / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / physiopathology
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / surgery*
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis
  • Language Disorders / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Intraoperative / instrumentation*
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis*
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Psychomotor Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychomotor Disorders / physiopathology