Surgical morbidity of transsylvian versus transcortical approaches to insular gliomas

Colin J. Przybylowski, Jacob F. Baranoski, Veronica M. So, Jeffrey Wilson, Nader Sanai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: The choice of transsylvian versus transcortical corridors for resection of insular gliomas remains controversial. Functional pathway compromise from transcortical transgression and vascular injury during transsylvian dissection are the primary concerns. In this study, data from a single-center experience with both approaches were compared to determine whether one approach was associated with a higher rate of morbidity than the other. Methods: The authors identified 100 consecutive patients who underwent resection of pure insular gliomas at the Barrow Neurological Institute. Volumetric analysis was performed using FLAIR and contrast-enhanced T1-weighted MRI for low- and high-grade gliomas, respectively, for extent of resection (EOR) and diffusion-weighted sequences were used to detect for postoperative ischemia. Step-wise logistic regression analysis was performed to identify predictors of neurological morbidity. Results: Data from 100 patients with low-grade or high-grade insular gliomas were analyzed. Fifty-two patients (52%) underwent a transsylvian approach, and 48 patients (48%) underwent a transcortical approach. The mean (± SD) EOR was 91.6% ± 12.4% in the transsylvian group and 88.6% ± 14.2% in the transcortical group (p = 0.26). Clinical outcome metrics for the 2 groups were similar. Overall, 13 patients (25%) in the transsylvian group and 10 patients (21%) in the transcortical group had evidence of ischemia on postoperative MR images. For both approaches, high-grade histology was associated with permanent morbidity (p = 0.01). For patients with gliomas located within the superior-posterior quadrant of the insula, development of postoperative ischemia was associated with only the transsylvian approach (46% vs 0%, p = 0.02). Conclusions: Areas of restricted diffusion are common on postoperative MRI following resection of insular gliomas, but only a minority of these patients develop permanent neurological deficits. Insular glioma patients with high-grade histology may be at particular risk for developing symptomatic postoperative ischemia. Both the transcortical and transsylvian corridors are associated with reasonable morbidity profiles, although gliomas situated within the superior-posterior quadrant of the insula are more safely accessed with a transcortical approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1731-1738
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Extent of resection
  • Insular glioma
  • Surgical technique
  • Transcortical
  • Transsylvian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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