Widespread cortical thinning in children with frontal lobe epilepsy

Elysa Widjaja, Sina Zarei Mahmoodabadi, O Carter Snead, Abeer Almehdar, Mary Lou Smith
Epilepsia 2011, 52 (9): 1685-91

PURPOSE: Spread of seizure activity outside the frontal lobe due to cortico-cortical connections can result in alteration in the cortex beyond the frontal lobe in children with intractable frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE). The aim of this study was to identify regions of reduced cortical thickness in children with intractable FLE.

METHODS: High-resolution volumetric T(1)-weighted imaging was performed on 17 children with FLE, who were being evaluated for epilepsy surgery, and 26 age-matched healthy controls. The cortical thickness of 12 patients with left FLE and 5 patients with right FLE was compared to controls. The clusters of cortical thinning were regressed against age of seizure onset, duration of epilepsy, seizure frequency, and number of medications.

KEY FINDINGS: In children with left FLE, cortical thinning was present in the left superior frontal, paracentral, precuneus, cingulate, inferior parietal, supramarginal, postcentral, and superior temporal gyri, as well as in the right superior and middle frontal, medial orbitofrontal, supramarginal, postcentral, banks of superior temporal sulcus, and parahippocampal gyri. In children with right FLE, cortical thinning was present in the right precentral, postcentral, transverse temporal, parahippocampal, lingual, and lateral occipital gyri, as well as in the left superior frontal, inferior parietal, postcentral, superior temporal, posterior cingulate, and lingual gyri. In children with left FLE, following exclusion of one outlier, there was no significant association between age at seizure onset, duration of epilepsy, seizure frequency and number of medications with clusters of cortical thinning. In children with right FLE, age at seizure onset, duration of epilepsy, frequency of seizures, and number of medications were not associated with clusters of cortical thinning within the right and left hemispheres.

SIGNIFICANCE: Cortical changes were present in the frontal and extrafrontal cortex in children with intractable FLE. These changes may be related to spread of seizure activity, large epileptogenic zones involving both frontal and extrafrontal lobes, and development of secondary epileptogenic zones that over time lead to cortical abnormality. Further studies correlating cortical changes with neurocognitive measures are needed to determine if the cortical changes relate to cognitive function.

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