Malignant astrocytomas constitute the most aggressive and common primary tumors of the central nervous system. The standard treatment protocol for these tumors involves maximum safe surgical resection with adjuvant chemoradiotherapy. Despite numerous advances in surgical techniques and adjuncts, as well as the ongoing renaissance in the genetic and molecular characterization of these tumors, malignant astrocytomas continue to be associated with poor prognosis, with median overall survival averaging 15 months for grade IV astrocytomas after standard-of-care treatment. In this article, the goals, principles, techniques, prognostic factors, and modern outcomes of malignant astrocytoma surgery are reviewed. Particular attention is paid to contemporary methods of neuronavigation and functional mapping, the prognostic significance of the extent of resection, surgically delivered adjunctive therapies, and future avenues of research.
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