Objectives: To test the hypothesis that magnetization transfer imaging (MTI), analyzed on a voxel-by-voxel basis, would identify areas of abnormal magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) in patients with focal epilepsy.
Methods: The authors used MTI maps and statistical parametric mapping (SPM) to objectively compare the cerebral structures of 15 patients with malformations of cortical development (MCD), 10 with partial seizures and acquired lesions, and 42 with partial seizures and normal conventional MRI with those of 30 control subjects.
Results: Significant reductions of MTR were identified in all 10 patients with acquired nonprogressive cerebral lesions and partial seizures. In all, the areas of decreased MTR concurred with abnormalities identified on visual inspection of conventional MRI. In 13 of the 15 patients with MCD, SPM detected regions of significantly reduced MTR, all of which corresponded to abnormalities identified on visual inspection of conventional MRI. In addition, in both groups, there were areas that were normal on conventional imaging that demonstrated abnormal MTR. There was a significant reduction of MTR in 15 of the 42 patients with cryptogenic focal epilepsy. In all of these, the areas of reduced MTR concurred with epileptiform EEG abnormality and clinical seizure semiology.
Conclusions: Magnetization transfer imaging analyzed using statistical parametric mapping was sensitive in identifying malformations of cortical development and acquired cerebral lesions. Abnormalities of magnetization transfer ratio in individual MRI-negative patients suggest that minor structural disorganization exists in occult epileptogenic cerebral lesions.