Purpose: Presurgical evaluation for intractable frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) is difficult and invasive, partly because anatomic neuroimaging studies with computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) typically do not show a discrete lesion. In adult patients with FLE, functional neuroimaging of glucose metabolism with positron emission tomography (PET) is less sensitive in detecting focal metabolic abnormalities than in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Comparable data on children with FLE are not available.
Methods: We used high-resolution PET scanning of glucose metabolism to evaluate 13 children (age 17 months to 17 years; mean age 9.5 years) with intractable FLE being considered for surgical treatment. Only children with normal CT and MRI scans were included.
Results: Hypometabolism including the frontal lobe was evident in 12 of the 13 children, was unilateral in 11 of 13, and was restricted to the frontal lobe in 8 of 13. One child showed bilateral frontal cortex hypometabolism and another had an ictal PET scan demonstrating unilateral frontal cortex hypermetabolism surrounded by hypometabolism. Additional hypometabolic areas outside the frontal cortex were observed in 5 children in parietal and/or temporal cortex. Localization of seizure onset on scalp EEG was available in 10 children and corresponded to the location of frontal lobe PET abnormality in 8. However, in 4 of the 10 children, the extent of hypometabolism exceeded the epileptogenic region indicated by ictal EEG. In 2 of the 13 children, the abnormality evident on EEG was more extensive than that evident on PET. In the remaining 3 children for whom only interictal EEG data were available, the PET foci did not correspond in location to the interictal EEG abnormalities. In 11 of the 13 children, the presumed region of seizure onset in the frontal lobe, as based on analysis of seizure semiology, corresponded to the locations of frontal lobe glucose metabolism abnormalities.
Conclusions: Although high-resolution PET appears to be very sensitive in localizing frontal lobe glucose metabolic abnormalities in children with intractable FLE and normal CT/MRI scans, the significance of extrafrontal metabolic disturbances requires further study; these may represent additional epileptogenic areas, effects of diaschisis, seizure propagation sites, or secondary epileptogenic foci.