Interictal epileptiform discharges in temporal lobe epilepsy due to hippocampal sclerosis versus medial temporal lobe tumors

Epilepsia. 1999 Sep;40(9):1261-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1999.tb00856.x.


Purpose: It remains controversial whether a specific pattern of interictal epileptiform activity exists that may help to differentiate temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) due to hippocampal sclerosis (HS) from other forms of TLE. In this study, we characterized the distribution of interictal epileptiform discharges in TLE due to HS as compared with those in patients with tumors restricted to the medial temporal lobe structures.

Methods: The study included 21 adult patients with unilateral HS who remained seizure free (>1 year) after anterior temporal lobectomy with amygdalohippocampectomy. Patients with "dual pathology" were excluded. The comparison group consisted of nine patients with tumors restricted to the amygdala and hippocampus. All patients underwent video-EEG monitoring preoperatively by using 39 scalp electrodes (including the 10-10 system over both temporal regions) and bilateral sphenoidal electrodes.

Results: The HS patient group showed a significantly higher percentage of ipsilateral epileptiform discharges maximal at anterior temporal electrodes (median, 97.0%; sphenoidal electrode alone, 88.1%), as compared with the tumor group (median, 72.1%; p<0.001; sphenoidal electrode alone, 24.8%; p<0.001). The HS group had significantly fewer extratemporal spikes/sharp waves (median, 0.0), as compared with the tumor group (10.0%; p<0.001). At least 90% of the interictal discharges were located in the anterior temporal region in 20 (95.2%) of 21 HS patients, but in none of the tumor patients (p<0.001). Bilateral temporal discharges were found in nine (42.9%) of 21 patients with HS and in two (22.2%) of nine tumor patients (p = 0.42).

Conclusions: We conclude that ipsilateral interictal epileptiform discharges outside the anterior temporal region are rare (<10%) in adults with intractable TLE due to unilateral HS. Frequent posterior or extratemporal sharp waves may detract from the certainty of this diagnosis in complicated cases. These restricted epileptiform discharges suggest a smaller irritative zone in HS as compared with medial tumors, or a more organized activity associated with intrinsic hippocampal disease. Bilateral epileptiform discharges were not uncommon in both groups.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / surgery
  • Brain Diseases / complications
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / complications*
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electroencephalography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / etiology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / surgery
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Hippocampus / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Sclerosis / pathology