Epilepsy as progressive disorders: what is the evidence that can guide our clinical decisions and how can neuroimaging help?

Epilepsy Behav. 2013 Mar;26(3):313-21. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2012.09.027. Epub 2012 Nov 3.


There is evidence that some types of epilepsy progress over time, and an important part of this knowledge has derived from neuroimaging studies. Different authors have demonstrated structural damage more pronounced in individuals with a longer duration of epilepsy, and others have been able to quantify this progression over time. However, others have failed to demonstrate progression possibly due to the heterogeneity of individuals evaluated. Currently, temporal lobe epilepsy associated with hippocampal sclerosis is regarded as a progressive disorder. Conversely, for other types of epilepsy, the evidence is not so clear. The causes of this damage progression are also unknown although there is consistent evidence that seizure is one of the mechanisms. The conflicting data about epilepsy progression can be a challenge for clinical decisions for an individual patient. Studies with homogenous groups and longer follow-up are necessary for appropriate conclusions about the real burden of damage progression in epilepsies, and neuroimaging will be essential in this context.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Disease Progression
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Neuroimaging / methods*