Benzodiazepine Sedation and Postoperative Neurological Deficits after Awake Craniotomy for Brain Tumor – An Exploratory Retrospective Cohort Study

Eric Plitman, Tumul Chowdhury, Gabriel Paquin-Lanthier, Hirokazu Takami, Sudhakar Subramaniam, Kok Weng Leong, Abigail Daniels, Mark Bernstein, Lashmi Venkatraghavan

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2 Scopus citations


An awake craniotomy is a common neurosurgical procedure for excising brain tumor(s) located near or in eloquent areas. The use of benzodiazepine (BZD) for sedation in some patients with neuropathological conditions (e.g., stroke, brain tumors) has been previously linked with re-appearance of neurological deficits including limb incoordination, ataxia, and motor weakness, resulting in complications for the patient along with procedural challenges. Whether or not these findings can be extrapolated to patients undergoing brain tumor resection is largely unknown. The current work primarily sought to compare neurological outcome(s) in the immediate postoperative period between BZD-free and BZD-based sedation techniques in patients undergoing awake craniotomy. Using a database composed of awake craniotomies conducted within a single center and by a single surgeon, patients were retrospectively classified based on midazolam administration into BZD-free sedation (n=125) and BZD-based sedation (n=416) groups. Patients from each group were matched based on age, sex, tumor location, tumor grade, preoperative neurological deficits, non-operative BZD use, and Karnofsky Performance Scale scores, resulting in 108 patients within each group. Postoperative neurological deficits were recorded. Logistic regression analyses were conducted comparing postoperative neurological deficits between the matched groups. Postoperative neurological deficits were more prevalent within the BZD-based sedation group compared to the BZD-free sedation group (adjusted odds ratio (aOR)=1.903, 95% CI=1.018-3.560, p=0.044). In addition, subgroup analysis of the matched cohort showed a relationship between preoperative neurological symptoms and postoperative neurological deficits in the BZD-based sedation group (aOR=3.756, 95% CI=1.390-10.147, p=0.009). Our findings support the notion that the increased incidence of postoperative neurological deficits with BZD sedation may in part be related to the unmasking of preoperative neurological deficits. Further studies are required to confirm this phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number885164
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
StatePublished - Apr 20 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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