Insular lobe surgery and cognitive impairment in gliomas operated with intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring

Barbara Zarino, Martina Andrea Sirtori, Tommaso Meschini, Giulio Andrea Bertani, Manuela Caroli, Cristina Bana, Linda Borellini, Marco Locatelli, Giorgio Carrabba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: For a long time, surgery of insular gliomas was considered at high risk for postoperative cognitive deficits, but recent studies highlighted the feasibility of the surgical approach. The aims of our study were to investigate the presence of language impairment before and after surgery and the relationship between language impairment and tumor volume preoperatively and extent of resection (EOR) 3 months after surgery. Methods: Thirty-five patients with insular gliomas underwent an extensive language assessment before and few days after surgery, and after 3 months. Intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring (IOM) and brain mapping with direct electrical stimulation (DES) were used in all the cases; 8 patients underwent awake craniotomy. Statistical analysis was performed on the language tests administered. Results: Patients with pure left insular lesion showed language impairment before and after surgery. Overall, patients with a left lesion showed a drop of performance after surgery followed by a partial recovery. Moreover, when the tumor involved the insula and adjacent networks, we observed a more severe deficit. No correlations were found between tumor volume, EOR, and language impairment. Conclusions: Left insular lobe is an important hub in language networks; its involvement determines pre- and postsurgical deficits, together with the involvement of white matter connections. Tumor volume and EOR are not risk factors per se directly related to language functioning. Surgery of insular gliomas is possible with a pre- and intraoperative extensive study of the patient with IOM and awake surgery, and encouraged by the trend of cognitive recovery highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1279-1289
Number of pages11
JournalActa Neurochirurgica
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Cognitive impairment
  • Insular glioma
  • Insular lobe surgery
  • Language
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neurosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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