The Artery of Aphasia, A Uniquely Sensitive Posterior Temporal Middle Cerebral Artery Branch that Supplies Language Areas in the Brain: Anatomy and Report of Four Cases

World Neurosurg. 2019 Jun;126:e65-e76. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2019.01.159. Epub 2019 Feb 6.


Background: Arterial disruption during brain surgery can cause devastating injuries to wide expanses of white and gray matter beyond the tumor resection cavity. Such damage may occur as a result of disrupting blood flow through en passage arteries. Identification of these arteries is critical to prevent unforeseen neurologic sequelae during brain tumor resection. In this study, we discuss one such artery, termed the artery of aphasia (AoA), which when disrupted can lead to receptive and expressive language deficits.

Methods: We performed a retrospective review of all patients undergoing an awake craniotomy for resection of a glioma by the senior author from 2012 to 2018. Patients were included if they experienced language deficits secondary to postoperative infarction in the left posterior temporal lobe in the distribution of the AoA. The gross anatomy of the AoA was then compared with activation likelihood estimations of the auditory and semantic language networks using coordinate-based meta-analytic techniques.

Results: We identified 4 patients with left-sided posterior temporal artery infarctions in the distribution of the AoA on diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. All 4 patients developed substantial expressive and receptive language deficits after surgery. Functional language improvement occurred in only 2/4 patients. Activation likelihood estimations localized parts of the auditory and semantic language networks in the distribution of the AoA.

Conclusions: The AoA is prone to blood flow disruption despite benign manipulation. Patients seem to have limited capacity for speech recovery after intraoperative ischemia in the distribution of this artery, which supplies parts of the auditory and semantic language networks.

Keywords: Aphasia; Artery; Audition; Language; Network; Temporal lobe.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aphasia / pathology*
  • Autopsy
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Neoplasms / complications
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Craniotomy
  • Female
  • Glioma / complications
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Glioma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / complications
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / pathology*
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / surgery
  • Language Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Language Disorders / etiology
  • Language Disorders / pathology
  • Language*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / anatomy & histology*
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies