The pre-surgical planning effort aims to enhance surgical precision in cases of patients with tumors and arteriovenous malformations. The primary objective is to develop and implement paradigms that reliably elicit activity in certain brain regions known to be associated with particular every-day actions, such as talking or using one’s hand. We design tasks for the patient, such as lifting a finger, reading a word, or hearing a beep, and as they complete these tasks we record the MEG data. We then analyze the data, and in conjunction with a structural MRI we pin point the most likely source of the activity. Once we can identify these highly depended upon brain regions, the neurosurgeon can plan a route to the tumor or malformation that bypasses these important areas.
The role of MEG as a pre-surgical mapping tool shows great promise. In particular, as tumors or malformations grow they push brain tissue and distort anatomical landmarks that are usually readily identifiable and thus useful to reference during neurosurgeries. That the tissue is distorted, however, does not necessarily alter its functionality. Therefore, it is especially important to perform Pre-Surgical Mapping both because it identifies precisely where the brain is most active during particular tasks, but also because it improves identification of distorted anatomical landmarks during surgery.
Currently, we can perform pre-surgical mapping for somatosensory, motor, and auditory cortices, as well as brain regions associated with language perception and language production. We are actively working to further develop all of these paradigms, particularly language localization, and additionally implementing a visual paradigm.