Preservation of frontal white matter tracts in ventricular surgery: favoring an anterior interhemispheric transcallosal approach vs a transcortical transfrontal transventricular approach.

Source: Neurosurg Rev

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Secondary to the creation of a surgical corridor and retraction, white matter tracts degenerate, causing long-term scarring with potential neurological consequences. Third and lateral ventricle tumors require surgery that may lead to cognitive impairment. Our objective is to compare the long-term consequences of a transcortical transfrontal approach and an interhemispheric transcallosal approach on corpus callosum and frontal white matter tracts degeneration. Surgical patients with ventricular tumor accessible through both approaches were included and clinico-radiological data were retrospectively analyzed. The primary endpoint was the callosotomy length at 3-month post-operative T1 MRI, corrected by the extension of the tumor and the use of neuronavigation. Secondary outcomes included perioperative criteria such as bleeding, use of retractors and duration, FLAIR hypersignal on 3-month MRI, and re-do surgeries. To assess white matter tract interruption, 3-month FLAIR hypersignal was superposed to a tractography atlas. Seventy patients were included, 57 (81%) in the transfrontal group and 13 (19%) in the interhemispheric group. There was no difference in the mean callosotomy length on 3-month MRI (12.3 mm ± 5.60 transfrontal vs 11.7 mm ± 3.92 interhemispheric, p = 0.79) on univariate and multivariate analyses. The callosotomy length was inferior by - 3.13 mm for tumors located exclusively in the third ventricle (p = 0.016), independent of the approach. Retractors were used more often in transfrontal approaches (60% vs 33%, p < 0.001). The extent of frontal FLAIR hypersignal was higher after transfrontal approach (14.1 mm vs 0.525 mm, p < 0.001), correlated to the use of retractors (p < 0.05). After the interhemispheric approach, no tract other than corpus callosum was interrupted, whereas, after the transfrontal approach, frontal arcuate fibers and projections from the thalamus were interrupted in all patients, the cingulum in 19 (33%), the superior fronto-occipital fasciculus in 15 (26%), and the superior longitudinal fasciculus in 2 (3%). Transfrontal and interhemispheric approaches to the third and lateral ventricles both lead to the same long-term damage to the corpus callosum, but the transfrontal approach interrupts several white matter tracts essential to cognitive tasks such as attention and planning, even in the non-dominant hemisphere. These results encourage all neurosurgeons to be familiar with both approaches and favor the interhemispheric approach when both can give access to the tumor with a comparable risk. Neuropsychological studies are necessary to correlate these anatomical findings to cognitive outcomes.