Personalized fMRI delineates functional regions preserved within brain tumors

Objective

Accumulating evidence from invasive cortical stimulation mapping and non-invasive neuroimaging studies indicates that brain function may be preserved within brain tumors. However, a non-invasive approach to accurately and comprehensively delineate individual-specific functional networks in the whole brain, especially in brain tissues within and surrounding tumors, is still lacking. The purpose of the study is to develop a clinically useful technique that can map functional regions within tumoral brains.

Methods

We developed an individual-specific functional network parcellation approach using resting state functional MRI (rsfMRI) that effectively captured functional networks within and nearby tumors in 20 patients. We examined the accuracy of the functional maps using invasive cortical stimulation and task response.

Results

We found that approximately 33.2% of the tumoral mass appeared to be functionally active and demonstrated robust functional connectivity with non-tumoral brain regions. Functional networks nearby tumors were validated by invasive cortical stimulation mapping. Intratumoral sensorimotor networks mapped by our technique could be distinguished by their distinct cortico-cerebellar connectivity patterns and were consistent with hand movement evoked fMRI task activations. Furthermore, in some patients, cognitive networks that were detected in the tumor mass showed long-distance and distributed functional connectivity.

Interpretation

Our non-invasive approach to mapping individual-specific functional networks using rsfMRI represents a promising new tool for identifying regions with preserved functional connectivity within and surrounding brain tumors, and could be used as a complement to presurgical planning for patients undergoing tumor resection surgery.

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