Introduction: Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is associated with disrupted memory function. The structural changes underlying this memory impairment have not been demonstrated previously with tractography.
Methods: We performed a tractography analysis of diffusion magnetic resonance imaging scans in 18 patients with unilateral TLE undergoing presurgical evaluation, and in 10 healthy controls. A seed region in the anterior parahippocampal gyrus was selected from which to trace the white matter connections of the medial temporal lobe. A correlation analysis was carried out between volume and mean fractional anisotropy (FA) of the connections, and pre-operative material specific memory performance.
Results: There was no significant difference between the left and right sided connections in controls. In the left TLE patients, the connected regions ipsilateral to the epileptogenic region were found to be significantly reduced in volume and mean FA compared with the contralateral region, and left-sided connections in control subjects. Significant correlations were found in left TLE patients between left and right FA, and verbal and non-verbal memory respectively.
Conclusion: Tractography demonstrated the alteration of white matter pathways that may underlie impaired memory function in TLE. A detailed knowledge of the integrity of these connections may be useful in predicting memory decline in chronic temporal lobe epilepsy.