Post-processing of structural MRI for individualized diagnostics

Pascal Martin, Benjamin Bender, Niels K. Focke


Currently, a relevant proportion of all histopathologically proven focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) escape visual detection; this shows the need for additional improvements in analyzing MRI data. A positive MRI is still the strongest prognostic factor for postoperative freedom of seizures. Among several post-processing methods voxel-based morphometry (VBM) of T1- and T2-weighted sequences and T2 relaxometry are routinely applied in pre-surgical diagnostics of cryptogenic epilepsy in epilepsy centers. VBM is superior to conventional visual analysis with 9-15% more identified epileptogenic foci, while T2 relaxometry has its main application in (mesial) temporal lobe epilepsy. Further methods such as surface-based morphometry (SBM) or diffusion tensor imaging are promising but there is a lack of current studies comparing their individual diagnostic value. Post-processing methods represent an important addition to conventional visual analysis but need to be interpreted with expertise and experience so that they should be apprehended as a complementary tool within the context of the multi-modal evaluation of epilepsy patients. This review will give an overview of existing post-processing methods of structural MRI and outline their clinical relevance in detection of epileptogenic structural changes.