Elaborate mapping of the posterior visual pathway in awake craniotomy

Publication Date


Journal Title

J Neurosurg


© AANS, 2018. OBJECTIVE Resection of intraaxial tumors adjacent to the optic radiation (OR) may be associated with postoperative visual field (VF) deficits. Intraoperative navigation using MRI-based tractography and electrophysiological monitoring of the visual pathways may allow maximal resection while preserving visual function. In this study, the authors evaluated the value of visual pathway mapping in a series of patients undergoing awake craniotomy for tumor resection. METHODS A retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data was conducted in 18 patients who underwent an awake craniotomy for resection of intraaxial tumors involving or adjacent to the OR. Preoperative MRI-based tractography was used for intraoperative navigation, and intraoperative acquisition of 3D ultrasonography images was performed for real-time imaging and correction of brain shift. Goggles with light-emitting diodes were used as a standard visual stimulus. Direct cortical visual evoked potential (VEP) recording, subcortical recordings from the OR, and subcortical stimulation of the OR were used intraoperatively to assess visual function and proximity of the lesion to the OR. VFs were assessed pre- and postoperatively. RESULTS Baseline cortical VEP recordings were available for 14 patients (77.7%). No association was found between preoperative VF status and baseline presence of cortical VEPs (p = 0.27). Five of the 14 patients (35.7%) who underwent subcortical stimulation of the OR reported seeing phosphenes in the corresponding contralateral VF. There was a positive correlation (r = 0.899, p = 0.04) between the subcortical threshold stimulation intensity (3-11.5 mA) and the distance from the OR. Subcortical recordings from the OR demonstrated a typical VEP waveform in 10 of the 13 evaluated patients (76.9%). These waveforms were present only when recordings were obtained within 10 mm of the OR (p = 0.04). Seven patients (38.9%) had postoperative VF deterioration, and it was associated with a length of < 8 mm between the tumor and the OR (p = 0.05). CONCLUSIONS Intraoperative electrophysiological monitoring of the visual pathways is feasible but may be of limited value in preserving the functional integrity of the posterior visual pathways. Subcortical stimulation of the OR may identify the location of the OR when done in proximity to the pathways, but such proximity may be associated with increased risk of postoperative worsening of the VF deficit.

Volume Number


Issue Number



1503 - 1511

Document Type





School of Medicine

Primary Department






For the public and Northwell Health campuses