Features of acute DWI abnormalities related to status epilepticus

Epilepsy Res. 2011 Nov;97(1-2):45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2011.07.002. Epub 2011 Jul 28.


We analyzed the phenomenon of transient regional diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) hyperintensity in a series of status epilepticus (SE) patients with respect to seizure type, epileptogenic lesions and EEG findings. A prospective series of 54 patients (30 men, 24 women, mean age 61.5 years) admitted with SE was analyzed with regard to clinical semiology, EEG and MRI findings including DWI and EEG recordings in the acute peri-ictal phase. DWI abnormalities occurred most frequently in patients with complex-partial SE (27/50%) and generalized SE (18/33.3%). Forty patients (74.1%) had symptomatic, 13/24.1% cryptogenic and 1/1.9% idiopathic epilepsies. On DWI, the hippocampus was affected in 37/68.5% cases, often in combination with other brain areas (15/40.5%), in particular the pulvinar was affected in 14/25.9% patients. Bilateral DWI changes were found in 8/14.8% patients. No correlation with a specific seizure type was observed. In 21/38.9%, DWI changes were ipsilateral to the epileptogenic brain lesion (p<0.001) and in 5/9.3% contralateral, whereas in the majority of patients, either bilateral changes or no specific epileptogenic lesion were found. EEG abnormalities correlated with lateralization of DWI abnormalities in 44/81.5% (p<0.001). The most common localization of DWI abnormalities associated with ictal activity was the hippocampus and the pulvinar. Combined DWI-MRI and EEG analysis provides clues to seizure localization and propagation, as well as to identify brain structures affected by continuous or frequent ictal activity. This large series of patients with different features (SE type and cause, various epileptogenic lesions) demonstrates the heterogeneity of the phenomenon of peri-ictal DWI changes.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Complex Partial / pathology*
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / pathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulvinar / pathology
  • Status Epilepticus / pathology*
  • Young Adult