Atrophy of mesial structures in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy: cause or consequence of repeated seizures?

Ann Neurol. 1993 Dec;34(6):795-801. doi: 10.1002/ana.410340607.


We studied 70 epileptic patients by using magnetic resonance imaging volumetric measurements of amygdala (AM) and hippocampal formation (HF). Fifty patients presented with intractable temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), 10 patients had focal extratemporal lobe epilepsy, and 10 had generalized epilepsy. In 91% of the 45 TLE patients without foreign tissue lesions, there was significant smallness of the AM and/or HF coinciding with the side of electroencephalographic seizure onset. No significant smallness or asymmetry was demonstrated in patients with focal extratemporal or generalized epilepsy. We performed a linear regression analysis, plotting the number of years of recurrent seizures and the estimated seizure frequency against the volumes of the AM and HF. There was no correlation between either of these two parameters and AM or HF volume (p > 0.9). There was also no correlation between the patient's age and volumetric measurements of AM or HF, nor did these measurements correlate with the occurrence of generalized seizures. On the other hand, patients with antecedent prolonged febrile convulsions in early childhood had significantly smaller AM and HF, compared with those without such a history (p < 0.001). The findings indicate that repeated seizures or longer duration of epilepsy do not cause increased atrophy of AM or HF that is measurable by volumetric magnetic resonance imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / pathology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Atrophy / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Epilepsies, Partial / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / pathology*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged