Ipsilateral and contralateral thalamic hypometabolism as a predictor of outcome after temporal lobectomy for seizures.
UNLABELLED: FDG PET is often used to help localize the seizure focus before surgery in patients with medically refractory temporal lobe epilepsy. However, the ability of certain patterns of metabolic landscape to predict postsurgical seizure outcome has not been well characterized. The purpose of this retrospective study was to determine whether FDG PET abnormalities elsewhere in the brain, in combination with those in the temporal lobes, can be used to predict seizure outcome after surgery. METHODS: Eighty patients with refractory temporal lobe seizures were imaged with PET after intravenous administration of 115 microCi/kg FDG. Images were interpreted without knowledge of clinical information by an experienced reviewer to determine seizure focus and regional metabolic changes in the brain. Metabolic activity scores were assigned for cortical and subcortical structures using the following criteria: 4 = normal activity, 3 = mildly decreased activity, 2 = moderately decreased activity, 1 = severely decreased activity, and 0 = no activity. A laterality index for each region was calculated using the equation 100 x [right - left]/[1/2 x (right + left)]. Seizure focus localization was based on the laterality of temporal lobe metabolic activity and was compared with that determined by scalp and depth electrodes and MRI results. Comparisons were made between asymmetries in metabolic activity in various brain structures and postoperative seizure frequency. Postoperative outcome was determined on the basis of cessation (complete disappearance of seizures) or continuation of seizure activity, regardless of frequency, compared with the preoperative state. RESULTS: All 64 patients who were free of seizures postoperatively had either no thalamic asymmetry or reduced metabolism on the side from which the temporal lobe was removed. In contrast, 5 of 16 patients (31%) with postoperative seizures of any frequency had hypometabolism in the thalamus contralateral to that of the removed temporal lobe. All 5 patients with reverse thalamic asymmetry had postoperative seizures. Patients with thalamic hypometabolism ipsilateral to the removed temporal lobe also had an increased risk of postoperative seizures, but this risk was not as high as in patients with the contralateral abnormality. In these patients, the temporal lobe (which appeared hypometabolic on PET) was determined to be the site of the seizure on the basis of information besides that provided by PET before surgery. CONCLUSION: This study indicated that, in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy, thalamic metabolic asymmetry, particularly in the reverse direction to that of the temporal lobe asymmetry, was associated with a poor postsurgical outcome compared with no or matched asymmetry. This determination may be important in evaluating patients for, and selecting optimal candidates for, surgical intervention.