Neurosurgeons from the University of California, San Francisco are reporting significant results of a new brain mapping technique that allows for the safe removal of tumors near language pathways in the brain. The technique minimizes brain exposure and reduces the amount of time a patient must be awake during surgery.
Perhaps even more profound, the study provides new data that refines scientists understanding of how language is organized within the human cortex. It identifies new regions involved in speech production, reading and naming. The team used this data to generate a three-dimensional cortical language map that is more detailed and integrates more data than any language map of the brain ever generated.
This study represents a paradigm shift in language mapping during brain tumor resection, said senior author Mitchel Berger, MD, professor and chairman of the UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery and director of the UCSF Brain Tumor Research Center. Not only have we proven this technique can be safely relied upon for brain tumor resection, we have shown functional language organization to be much more diverse and individualized than previously thought.
Accurately understanding cortical language organization has clinical implications for more than just brain tumor patients, said lead author Nader Sanai, MD, senior resident in neurological surgery at UCSF. Any patient with a seizure-disorder, stroke or head injury who has language-related difficulties can now be better understood in the context of this revised anatomy.
The findings are presented in the January 3, 2008 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
The technique, which Berger and his team helped pioneer, is known as negative brain mapping. It eliminates neurosurgeons dependence on traditional language mapping methods that typically require the removal of large sections of skull and extensive brain mapping while the patient is awake. It a
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University of California - San Francisco