Atlas of lesion locations and postsurgical seizure freedom in focal cortical dysplasia: A MELD study

Epilepsia. 2022 Jan;63(1):61-74. doi: 10.1111/epi.17130. Epub 2021 Nov 29.


Objective: Drug-resistant focal epilepsy is often caused by focal cortical dysplasias (FCDs). The distribution of these lesions across the cerebral cortex and the impact of lesion location on clinical presentation and surgical outcome are largely unknown. We created a neuroimaging cohort of patients with individually mapped FCDs to determine factors associated with lesion location and predictors of postsurgical outcome.

Methods: The MELD (Multi-centre Epilepsy Lesion Detection) project collated a retrospective cohort of 580 patients with epilepsy attributed to FCD from 20 epilepsy centers worldwide. Magnetic resonance imaging-based maps of individual FCDs with accompanying demographic, clinical, and surgical information were collected. We mapped the distribution of FCDs, examined for associations between clinical factors and lesion location, and developed a predictive model of postsurgical seizure freedom.

Results: FCDs were nonuniformly distributed, concentrating in the superior frontal sulcus, frontal pole, and temporal pole. Epilepsy onset was typically before the age of 10 years. Earlier epilepsy onset was associated with lesions in primary sensory areas, whereas later epilepsy onset was associated with lesions in association cortices. Lesions in temporal and occipital lobes tended to be larger than frontal lobe lesions. Seizure freedom rates varied with FCD location, from around 30% in visual, motor, and premotor areas to 75% in superior temporal and frontal gyri. The predictive model of postsurgical seizure freedom had a positive predictive value of 70% and negative predictive value of 61%.

Significance: FCD location is an important determinant of its size, the age at epilepsy onset, and the likelihood of seizure freedom postsurgery. Our atlas of lesion locations can be used to guide the radiological search for subtle lesions in individual patients. Our atlas of regional seizure freedom rates and associated predictive model can be used to estimate individual likelihoods of postsurgical seizure freedom. Data-driven atlases and predictive models are essential for evidence-based, precision medicine and risk counseling in epilepsy.

Keywords: MRI; drug-resistant epilepsy; focal cortical dysplasia; lesions; neurosurgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy* / complications
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy* / diagnostic imaging
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy* / surgery
  • Epilepsy* / diagnostic imaging
  • Epilepsy* / etiology
  • Epilepsy* / surgery
  • Freedom
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Malformations of Cortical Development* / complications
  • Malformations of Cortical Development* / diagnostic imaging
  • Malformations of Cortical Development* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / diagnostic imaging
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Seizures / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome