Aphasia induced by gliomas growing in the ventrolateral frontal region: Assessment with diffusion MR tractography, functional MR imaging and neuropsychology

Alberto Bizzi, Simone Nava, Francesca Ferrè, Gianmarco Castelli, Domenico Aquino, Francesca Ciaraffa, Giovanni Broggi, Francesco DiMeco, Sylvie Piacentini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Lesions in the ventrolateral region of the dominant frontal lobe have been historically associated with aphasia. Recent imaging results suggest that frontal language regions extend beyond classically defined Broca's area to include the ventral precentral gyrus (VPCG) and the arcuate fasciculus (AF). Frontal gliomas offer a unique opportunity to identify structures that are essential for speech production. The aim of this prospective study was to investigate the correlation between language deficits and lesion location in patients with gliomas. Methods: Nineteen patients with glioma and 10 healthy subjects were evaluated with diffusion tensor imaging magnetic resonance (MR) tractography, functional MR (verb generation task) and the Aachener Aphasie Test. Patients were divided into two groups according to lesion location with respect to the ventral precentral sulcus: (i) anterior (n= 8) with glioma growing in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and underlying white matter; (ii) posterior (n= 11) with glioma growing in the VPCG and underlying white matter. Virtual dissection of the AF, frontal intralobar tract, uncinate fasciculus (UF) and inferior frontal occipital fasciculus (IFOF) was performed with a deterministic approach. Results: Seven posterior patients showed aphasia classified as conduction (4), Broca (1), transcortical motor (1) and an isolated deficit of semantic fluency; one anterior patient had transcortical mixed aphasia. All posterior patients had invasion of the VPCG, however only patients with aphasia had also lesion extension to the AF as demonstrated by tractography dissections. All patients with language deficits had high grade glioma. Groups did not differ regarding tumour volume. A functional pars opercularis was identified with functional MR imaging (fMRI) in 17 patients. Conclusions: Gliomas growing in the left VPCG are much more likely to cause speech deficits than gliomas infiltrating the IFG, including Broca's area. Lesion extension to the AF connecting frontal to parietal and temporal regions is an important mechanism for the appearance of aphasia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-272
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • Aphasia
  • Arcuate fasciculus
  • Diffusion MRI
  • Frontal lobe glioma
  • Functional MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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