Patients with medically-refractory focal epilepsy may be candidates for neurosurgery and some may require placement of intracranial EEG electrodes to localise seizure onset. Assessing cerebral responses to single pulse electrical stimulation (SPES) may give diagnostically useful data. SPES produces cortico-cortical evoked potentials (CCEPs), which infer effective brain connectivity. Diffusion-weighted images and tractography may be used to estimate structural brain connectivity. This combination provides the opportunity to observe seizure onset and its propagation throughout the brain, spreading contiguously along the cortex explored with electrodes, or non-contiguously. We analysed CCEPs and diffusion tractography in seven focal epilepsy patients and reconstructed the effective and structural brain networks. We aimed to assess the inter-modal similarity of the networks at a large scale across the cortex, the effective and structural connectivity of the ictal-onset zone, and investigate potential mechanisms of non-contiguous seizure spread. We found a significant overlap between structural and effective networks. Effective network CCEP amplitude, baseline variation, and outward connectivity was higher at ictal-onset zones, while structural connection strength within the ictal-onset zone tended to be higher. These findings support the concept of hyperexcitable cortex being associated with seizure generation. The high prevalence of structural and effective connections from the ictal-onset zone to sites of non-contiguous spread suggests that macroscopic structural and effective connections are plausible routes for non-contiguous seizure spread.
Keywords: Cortico-cortical evoked potential; Diffusion MRI tractography; Epilepsy; Graph theory; Intracranial EEG; Seizure.