Focal neuronal migration disorders and intractable partial epilepsy: a study of 30 patients

Ann Neurol. 1991 Dec;30(6):741-9. doi: 10.1002/ana.410300602.


We studied 30 patients with partial epilepsy and a radiological or pathological diagnosis of localized neuronal migration disorders, with a view to surgical treatment. Eight patients had identifiable prenatal etiological factors. The frequency of complex partial, partial motor, and secondarily generalized seizures was approximately 70% each. Drop attacks were present in 27%: Their presence usually correlated with a lesion involving the central region. Partial motor or generalized convulsive status epilepticus occurred in 30%, and was most frequently associated with extensive structural abnormalities involving two or more lobes. A full-scale intelligence quotient of less than 80 was found in 44%. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was superior to computed tomography for identification of the dysplastic cortical lesions. In one third, MRI showed only subcortical abnormalities. It did not allow distinction between true pachygyria, focal cortical dysplasia, or the forme fruste of tuberous sclerosis. The epileptogenic area was usually more extensive than the lesion; it was multilobar in more than 70% of patients. Of 26 surgically treated patients, a histological diagnosis of the type of neuronal migration disorder was possible in 22: 12 had focal cortical dysplasia and 10 the forme fruste of tuberous sclerosis. In the remaining 4, no definite histological diagnosis was made, since the maximally abnormal tissue could not be examined. In the latter, and in the 4 nonoperated patients, the diagnosis of neuronal migration disorder was based on imaging findings. The presence of the forme fruste of tuberous sclerosis correlated with delayed psychomotor development and more extensive epileptogenic areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cell Movement
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / embryology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsies, Partial / embryology
  • Epilepsies, Partial / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsies, Partial / pathology
  • Epilepsies, Partial / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intellectual Disability / epidemiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed