The predictive value of hypometabolism in focal epilepsy: a prospective study in surgical candidates

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2019 Aug;46(9):1806-1816. doi: 10.1007/s00259-019-04356-x. Epub 2019 May 29.


Purpose: FDG PET is an established tool in presurgical epilepsy evaluation, but it is most often used selectively in patients with discordant MRI and EEG results. Interpretation is complicated by the presence of remote or multiple areas of hypometabolism, which leads to doubt as to the true location of the seizure onset zone (SOZ) and might have implications for predicting the surgical outcome. In the current study, we determined the sensitivity and specificity of PET localization prospectively in a consecutive unselected cohort of patients with focal epilepsy undergoing in-depth presurgical evaluation.

Methods: A total of 130 patients who underwent PET imaging between 2006 and 2015 matched our inclusion criteria, and of these, 86 were operated on (72% with a favourable surgical outcome, Engel class I). Areas of focal hypometabolism were identified using statistical parametric mapping and concordance with MRI, EEG and intracranial EEG was evaluated. In the surgically treated patients, postsurgical outcome was used as the gold standard for correctness of localization (minimum follow-up 12 months).

Results: PET sensitivity and specificity were both 95% in 86 patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and 80% and 95%, respectively, in 44 patients with extratemporal epilepsy (ETLE). Significant extratemporal hypometabolism was observed in 17 TLE patients (20%). Temporal hypometabolism was observed in eight ETLE patients (18%). Among the 86 surgically treated patients, 26 (30%) had hypometabolism extending beyond the SOZ. The presence of unilobar hypometabolism, included in the resection, was predictive of complete seizure control (p = 0.007), with an odds ratio of 5.4.

Conclusion: Additional hypometabolic areas were found in one of five of this group of nonselected patients with focal epilepsy, including patients with "simple" lesional epilepsy, and this finding should prompt further in-depth evaluation of the correlation between EEG findings, semiology and PET. Hypometabolism confined to the epileptogenic zone as defined by EEG and MRI is associated with a favourable postoperative outcome in both TLE and ETLE patients.

Keywords: Extratemporal epilepsy; FDG PET; Predictive value; Prognosis; Seizure onset zone; Temporal epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsies, Partial / diagnostic imaging
  • Epilepsies, Partial / metabolism*
  • Epilepsies, Partial / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Predictive Value of Tests*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Young Adult