Object: Surgical resection of tumors located in the insular region is challenging for neurosurgeons, and few have published their surgical results. The authors report their experience with intrinsic tumors of the insula, with an emphasis on an objective determination of the extent of resection and neurological complications and on an analysis of the anatomical characteristics that can lead to suboptimal outcomes.
Methods: Twenty-two patients who underwent surgical resection of intrinsic insular tumors were retrospectively identified. Eight tumors (36%) were purely insular, eight (36%) extended into the temporal pole, and six (27%) extended into the frontal operculum. A transsylvian surgical approach, combined with a frontal opercular resection or temporal lobectomy when necessary, was used in all cases. Five of 13 patients with tumors located in the dominant hemisphere underwent craniotomies while awake. The extent of tumor resection was determined using volumetric analyses. In 10 patients, more than 90% of the tumor was resected; in six patients, 75 to 90% was resected; and in six patients, less than 75% was resected. No patient died within 30 days after surgery. During the immediate postoperative period, the neurological conditions of 14 patients (64%) either improved or were unchanged, and in eight patients (36%) they worsened. Deficits included either motor or speech dysfunction. At the 3-month follow-up examination, only two patients (9%) displayed permanent deficits. Speech and motor dysfunction appeared to result most often from excessive opercular retraction and manipulation of the middle cerebral artery (MCA), interruption of the lateral lenticulostriate arteries (LLAs), interruption of the long perforating vessels of the second segment of the MCA (M2), or violation of the corona radiata at the superior aspect of the tumor. Specific methods used to avoid complications included widely splitting the sylvian fissure and identifying the bases of the periinsular sulci to define the superior and inferior resection planes, identifying early the most lateral LLA to define the medial resection plane, dissecting the MCA before tumor resection, removing the tumor subpially with preservation of all large perforating arteries arising from posterior M2 branches, and performing craniotomy with brain stimulation while the patient was awake.
Conclusions: A good understanding of the surgical anatomy and an awareness of potential pitfalls can help reduce neurological complications and maximize surgical resection of insular tumors.