Functional evaluation using magnetic resonance imaging of the visual cortex in patients with retrochiasmatic lesions

J Neurosurg. 1998 Nov;89(5):780-90. doi: 10.3171/jns.1998.89.5.0780.


Object: The goal of this study was to evaluate the clinical potential of combining functional magnetic resonance (fMR) imaging with conventional morphological MR imaging and to assess its usefulness for objective evaluation of visual function as part of treatment planning in patients harboring space-occupying lesions involving the posterior afferent visual system.

Methods: It was hypothesized that regional activation of the visual cortex during visual stimulation would show an asymmetric response consistent with the well-known retinotopical organization of the human visual cortex. To test this hypothesis, the pattern of regional cortical activity detected by fMR imaging during binocular repetitive photic stimulation (10 Hz) was compared with the findings of conventional visual field testing. Functional mapping of the visual cortex was performed using a noninvasive blood oxygen level-dependent MR technique in 10 patients with intraaxial and two with extraaxial lesions. Experiments involving two of the patients were unsuccessful because of motion artifacts. In all the remaining patients functional activity was demonstrated in the primary visual area that corresponded to the anatomical location of the calcarine cortex. In nine patients, the identified patterns of activation in the visual cortex were consistent with the visual field deficits (seven homonymous hemianopsias, one homonymous central scotoma, and one inferior quadrantanopsia) and with the traditional teaching of retinotopical representation. Discordance between fMR imaging and perimetric findings was observed in one case.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that fMR imaging can be performed routinely and successfully in patients with visual abnormalities as part of a conventional neuroradiological evaluation. The technique provides essential information about the function-structure relationship specific to an individual patient and holds promise not only for diagnosis and therapy planning, but also for understanding the topography and functional specialization of the human visual cortex.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Optic Chiasm / pathology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vision Disorders / diagnosis
  • Visual Cortex / pathology*
  • Visual Field Tests
  • Visual Fields / physiology