Hemispheric language dominance measured by repetitive navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation and postoperative course of language function in brain tumor patients

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The resection of left-sided perisylvian brain lesions harbors the risk of postoperative aphasia. Because it is known that language function can shift between hemispheres in brain tumor patients, the preoperative knowledge of the patient's language dominance could be helpful. We therefore investigated the hemispheric language dominance by repetitive navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and surgery-related deficits of language function.


We pooled the bicentric language mapping data of 80 patients undergoing the resection of left-sided perisylvian brain lesions in our two university neurosurgical departments. We calculated error rates (ERs; ER = errors per stimulations) for both hemispheres and defined the hemispheric dominance ratio (HDR) as the quotient of the left- and right-sided ER (HDR >1= left dominant; HDR <1= right dominant). The course of the patient's language function was evaluated and correlated with the preoperative HDR.


Only three of 80 patients (4%) presented with permanent surgery-related aphasia and 24 patients (30%) with transient surgery-related aphasia. The mean HDR (± standard deviation) of patients with new aphasia after five days was significantly higher (1.68±1.07) than the HDR of patients with no new language deficit (1.37±1.08) (p=0.0482). With a predefined cut-off value of 0.5 for HDR, we achieved a sensitivity for predicting new aphasia of 100%.


A higher preoperative HDR significantly correlates with an increased risk for transient aphasia. Moreover, the intensive preoperative workup in this study led to a considerably low rate of permanent aphasia.

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