Review: The international consensus classification of Focal Cortical Dysplasia - a critical update 2018

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2018 Feb;44(1):18-31. doi: 10.1111/nan.12462.


The Diagnostic Methods commission of the International League against Epilepsy (ILAE) released a first international consensus classification of Focal Cortical Dysplasia (FCD) in 2011. Since that time, this FCD classification has been widely used in clinical diagnosis and research (more than 740 papers cited in Pubmed between 1/1/2012 and 7/1/2017). Herein, we review the new data that will inform and revise the FCD classification. Many recent papers described molecular-genetic characteristics in FCD type II including multiple mutations in the mTOR pathway. In addition, the electro-clinico-imaging phenotype and surgical outcomes of FCD type II (in particular type IIb) were further defined and validated. These results pave the way for the design of an integrated clinico-pathological and genetic classification system, as recently recommended by the WHO for the classification of malignant brain tumours. On the other hand, little new information was acquired on FCD types I and III. Focal cortical dysplasia type I subtypes are still lacking a comprehensive description of clinical phenotypes, reproducible imaging characteristics, and specific molecular/genetic biomarkers. Associated FCD III subtypes also became rare in published literature. Despite temporal lobe epilepsy being the most common focal epilepsy in adults, we have not identified neurophysiological, imaging, histopathological and/or genetic biomarkers to reliably classify FCD III with or without hippocampal sclerosis. In respect of pathogenesis, FCD adjacent to a non-developmental, postnatally acquired lesion is difficult to explain and perhaps does not exist. This update may help foster shared efforts towards a better understanding of FCD, potential future updates of classification and novel targeted treatments.

Keywords: classification; clinical-imaging characteristics; embryology; focal cortical dysplasia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Consensus
  • Epilepsy / classification
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / diagnostic imaging
  • Epilepsy / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Malformations of Cortical Development, Group I / classification
  • Malformations of Cortical Development, Group I / diagnosis*
  • Malformations of Cortical Development, Group I / diagnostic imaging
  • Malformations of Cortical Development, Group I / pathology
  • Neuroimaging*
  • Retrospective Studies

Supplementary concepts

  • Focal cortical dysplasia of Taylor