Morphological and Advanced Imaging of Epilepsy: Beyond the Basics

Children (Basel). 2019 Mar 11;6(3):43. doi: 10.3390/children6030043.


The etiology of epilepsy is variable and sometimes multifactorial. Clinical course and response to treatment largely depend on the precise etiology of the seizures. Along with the electroencephalogram (EEG), neuroimaging techniques, in particular, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are the most important tools for determining the possible etiology of epilepsy. Over the last few years, there have been many developments in data acquisition and analysis for both morphological and functional neuroimaging of people suffering from this condition. These innovations have increased the detection of underlying structural pathologies, which have till recently been classified as "cryptogenic" epilepsy. Cryptogenic epilepsy is often refractory to anti-epileptic drug treatment. In drug-resistant patients with structural or consistent functional lesions related to the epilepsy syndrome, surgery is the only treatment that can offer a seizure-free outcome. The pre-operative detection of the underlying structural condition increases the odds of successful surgical treatment of pharmacoresistant epilepsy. This article provides a comprehensive overview of neuroimaging techniques in epilepsy, highlighting recent advances and innovations and summarizes frequent etiologies of epilepsy in order to improve the diagnosis and management of patients suffering from seizures, especially young patients and children.

Keywords: cortical malformations; diffusion tensor imaging; epilepsy; hippocampal sclerosis; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); positron emission topography-computed tomography (PET-CT); single positron emission computed tomography (SPECT); spectroscopy.

Publication types

  • Review