Temporal lobe epilepsy: bilateral hippocampal metabolite changes revealed at proton MR spectroscopic imaging

Radiology. 1997 Mar;202(3):809-17. doi: 10.1148/radiology.202.3.9051038.


Purpose: To determine which proton magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopic imaging measures are best for lateralizing the seizure focus in patients who have temporal lobe epilepsy with and in those without hippocampal atrophy on MR images, the extent of contralateral abnormalities, and whether there is a correlation between MR spectroscopic imaging findings and surgical outcome.

Materials and methods: MR spectroscopic imaging was performed in 16 adult patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and unilateral electroencephalographic findings and in 16 adult control subjects. Eleven patients underwent surgery; all patients underwent MR imaging.

Results: Nine patients had hippocampal atrophy on MR images. An ipsilateral decrease in the N-acetylaspartate concentration or the ratio of N-acetylaspartate to the sum of creatine and choline (N-acetylaspartate/ [creatine + choline]) was found in all patients. Decreased contralateral N-acetylaspartate concentration, N-acetylaspartate/(creatine + choline), or N-acetylaspartate concentration and N-acetylaspartate/(creatine + choline) were detected in eight patients (50%), which suggests bilateral abnormalities not detected with MR imaging. In the five patients who underwent surgery and did not show hippocampal atrophy on MR images, successful and unsuccessful outcomes were correctly predicted with N-acetylaspartate concentration.

Conclusion: Decreased N-acetylaspartate concentration is not due solely to hippocampal atrophy. Contralateral abnormalities are much more frequent than expected. MR spectroscopic imaging is valuable in the presurgical evaluation of epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Aspartic Acid / analysis
  • Atrophy
  • Choline / analysis
  • Creatine / analysis
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / metabolism*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / surgery
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Creatine
  • Choline