The effect of transcranial direct current stimulation on seizure frequency of patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2016 Oct:149:27-32. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2016.07.014. Epub 2016 Jul 12.


Objectives: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive and safe method tried in drug-resistant epilepsies, in recent years. Our aim was to evaluate the effect of tDCS in patients diagnosed with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis (MTLE-HS) which is a well-known drug-resistant focal epilepsy syndrome.

Patients and methods: Twelve MTLE-HS patients diagnosed with their typical clinical, EEG and MRI findings fulfilling the criteria for drug-resistance as suggested by the ILAE commission were included after Ethics Committee approval and their signed consent. All patients received modulated cathodal stimulation; 2mA for 30min on 3 consecutive days. All patients also received sham stimulation with the same electrode positions; designed as 60s stimulation gradually decreasing in 15s with placement of the electrodes for 30min over the stimulation side. They were followed up by standard seizure diaries and their medical treatment was not changed during the study period. Their seizure frequencies both before and after cathodal tDCS and sham stimulation were compared statistically. Adverse effects were also questioned.

Results: Mean age of our study group was 35.42±6.96 (6 males; median: 35.50). The mean seizure frequency was 10.58±9.91 (median=8; min-max=2-30) at the baseline and significantly decreased to 1.67±2.50 (median=0.5; min-max=0-8) after cathodal tDCS application (p=0.003). Ten patients (83.33%) had more than 50% decrease in their seizure frequencies after cathodal tDCS. Two patients (16.67%) also showed positive sham effect. Six patients (50%) were seizure-free in the post-cathodal tDCS period of one month. No adverse effect has been reported except tingling sensation during cathodal stimulation.

Conclusion: Our small series suggested that cathodal tDCS may be used as an additional treatment option in MTLE-HS. It may be tried in TLE-HS patients waiting for or rejecting epilepsy surgery or even with ineffective surgery results. More studies are needed with large series of patients to investigate the effects of tDCS in drug resistant epilepsies.

Keywords: Cathodal tDCS; Drug resistant epilepsy; Hippocampal sclerosis; Modulated tDCS; Temporal lobe epilepsy; Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / therapy*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Sclerosis / pathology
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation / methods*