Imaging of malformations of cortical development

Epileptic Disord. 2009 Sep;11(3):194-205. doi: 10.1684/epd.2009.0262. Epub 2009 Sep 1.


Malformations of cortical development (MCD) include a broad range of disorders that result from disruption of the major steps of cortical development: cell proliferation in germinal zones, neuronal migration and cortical organization. With the improvement and increased utilization of modern imaging techniques, MCD have been increasingly recognized as a major cause of seizure disorders. The advent of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), in particular, has revolutionized the investigation and the treatment of patients with epilepsy. High-resolution MRI may elucidate the type, the extension and the localization of MCD; therefore, in a group of patients suffering from drug-resistant partial epilepsy (DRPE), MRI greatly contributes to the identification of subjects who are suitable for surgical treatment. In the recent past, many efforts were addressed to establish the MRI diagnostic criteria for a peculiar group of MCD, namely focal cortical dysplasias (FCD), histopathologically distinguished as types I and II. Some subtle FCD, which were previously cryptic to imaging investigation, can now be recognized by MRI, however their detection and specification remains challenging. This review will re-visit the neuroimaging findings, including structural MRI, PET, co-registered PET/MRI, MEG and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) of FCD types I and II. Three major issues will be discussed: 1) the morphological MRI features of the FCDs, 2) the utility of PET and MEG and the use of co-registration methods and 3) diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) as a future modality of investigation, which may add additional informations regarding the microstructure of the grey matter (GM) and white matter (WM) in cortical dysplasia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / surgery
  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nervous System Malformations / complications*
  • Nervous System Malformations / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Malformations / pathology
  • Nervous System Malformations / surgery
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Positron-Emission Tomography