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Abstract

The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging as an alternative to intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping for the localization of critical language areas in the temporoparietal region. We investigated several requirements that functional magnetic resonance imaging must fulfill for clinical implementation: high predictive power for the presence as well as the absence of critical language function in regions of the brain, user-independent statistical methodology, and high spatial accuracy. Thirteen patients with temporal lobe epilepsy performed four different functional magnetic resonance imaging language tasks (ie, verb generation, picture naming, verbal fluency, and sentence comprehension) before epilepsy surgery that included intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping. To assess the optimal statistical threshold for functional magnetic resonance imaging, images were analyzed with three different statistical thresholds. Functional magnetic resonance imaging information was read into a surgical guidance system for identification of cortical areas of interest. Intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping was recorded by video camera, and stimulation sites were digitized. Next, a computer algorithm indicated whether significant functional magnetic resonance imaging activation was present or absent within the immediate vicinity (<6.4mm) of intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping sites. In 2 patients, intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping failed during surgery. Intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping detected critical language areas in 8 of the remaining 11 patients. Correspondence between functional magnetic resonance imaging and intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping depended heavily on statistical threshold and varied between patients and tasks. In 7 of 8 patients, sensitivity of functional magnetic resonance imaging was 100% with a combination of 3 functional magnetic resonance imaging tasks (ie, functional magnetic resonance imaging correctly detected all critical language areas with high spatial accuracy). In 1 patient, sensitivity was 38%; in this patient, functional magnetic resonance imaging was included in a larger area found with intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping. Overall, specificity was 61%. Functional magnetic resonance imaging reliably predicted the absence of critical language areas within the region exposed during surgery, indicating that such areas can be safely resected without the need for intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping. The presence of functional magnetic resonance imaging activity at noncritical language sites limited the predictive value of functional magnetic resonance imaging for the presence of critical language areas to 51%. Although this precludes current replacement of intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping, functional magnetic resonance imaging can at present be used to speed up intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping procedures and to guide the extent of the craniotomy.