Quantitative MRI in refractory temporal lobe epilepsy: relationship with surgical outcomes
Medically intractable temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) remains a serious health problem. Across treatment centers, up to 40% of patients with TLE will continue to experience persistent postoperative seizures at 2-year follow-up. It is unknown why such a large number of patients continue to experience seizures despite being suitable candidates for resective surgery. Preoperative quantitative MRI techniques may provide useful information on why some patients continue to experience disabling seizures, and may have the potential to develop prognostic markers of surgical outcome. In this article, we provide an overview of how quantitative MRI morphometric and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data have improved the understanding of brain structural alterations in patients with refractory TLE. We subsequently review the studies that have applied quantitative structural imaging techniques to identify the neuroanatomical factors that are most strongly related to a poor postoperative prognosis. In summary, quantitative imaging studies strongly suggest that TLE is a disorder affecting a network of neurobiological systems, characterized by multiple and inter-related limbic and extra-limbic network abnormalities. The relationship between brain alterations and postoperative outcome are less consistent, but there is emerging evidence suggesting that seizures are less likely to remit with surgery when presurgical abnormalities are observed in the connectivity supporting brain regions serving as network nodes located outside the resected temporal lobe. Future work, possibly harnessing the potential from multimodal imaging approaches, may further elucidate the etiology of persistent postoperative seizures in patients with refractory TLE. Furthermore, quantitative imaging techniques may be explored to provide individualized measures of postoperative seizure freedom outcome.