Intractable focal epilepsy is a devastating disorder with profound effects on cognition and quality of life. Epilepsy surgery can lead to seizure freedom in patients with focal epilepsy; however, sometimes it fails due to an incomplete delineation of the epileptogenic zone. Brain networks in epilepsy can be studied with resting-state functional connectivity analysis, yet previous investigations using functional magnetic resonance imaging or electrocorticography have produced inconsistent results. Magnetoencephalography allows non-invasive whole-brain recordings, and can be used to study both long-range network disturbances in focal epilepsy and regional connectivity at the epileptogenic zone. In magnetoencephalography recordings from presurgical epilepsy patients, we examined: (i) global functional connectivity maps in patients versus controls; and (ii) regional functional connectivity maps at the region of resection, compared to the homotopic non-epileptogenic region in the contralateral hemisphere. Sixty-one patients were studied, including 30 with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy and 31 with focal neocortical epilepsy. Compared with a group of 31 controls, patients with epilepsy had decreased resting-state functional connectivity in widespread regions, including perisylvian, posterior temporo-parietal, and orbitofrontal cortices (P < 0.01, t-test). Decreased mean global connectivity was related to longer duration of epilepsy and higher frequency of consciousness-impairing seizures (P < 0.01, linear regression). Furthermore, patients with increased regional connectivity within the resection site (n = 24) were more likely to achieve seizure postoperative seizure freedom (87.5% with Engel I outcome) than those with neutral (n = 15, 64.3% seizure free) or decreased (n = 23, 47.8% seizure free) regional connectivity (P < 0.02, chi-square). Widespread global decreases in functional connectivity are observed in patients with focal epilepsy, and may reflect deleterious long-term effects of recurrent seizures. Furthermore, enhanced regional functional connectivity at the area of resection may help predict seizure outcome and aid surgical planning.
Keywords: epilepsy; functional connectivity; magnetoencephalography; outcome; surgery.
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