Proton spectroscopy in children with epilepsy and febrile convulsions

Pediatr Neurol. 1998 Aug;19(2):93-9. doi: 10.1016/s0887-8994(98)00028-9.


An association between complex febrile convulsions and the development of hippocampal atrophy, which is characterized by neuron loss and gliosis, has been suggested but is still controversial. In proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) a reduction in N-acetylaspartate (NAA), a neuron marker, or in its ratio to other metabolites, that is, creatine and phospocreatine (Cr) and choline-containing compounds (Cho), is considered a sensitive method for detecting neuron loss. We performed 1H-MRS of mesial temporal regions, including hippocampi, in two different groups of children with epilepsy: in children with a history of complex febrile convulsions (CFCs) (n = 7; mean age 7.1 years) and in children without any history of CFCs, referred to herein as the non-CFC group (n = 6; mean age 7.6 years). Changes in the metabolite ratios were detected in 57% of children in the CFC group and in 67% of children in the non-CFC group. In both groups, NAA/(Cho + Cr), NAA/Cho, and NAA/Cr were significantly decreased ipsilaterally to the seizure focus when compared with the control group, but no significant differences were detected between the CFC and non-CFC groups. Also on the contralateral side, NAA/(Cho + Cr) and NAA/Cr were significantly decreased in both patient groups, but the differences were not significant between the CFC and non-CFC groups. Metabolite abnormalities in the mesial temporal region were detected in children with intractable epilepsy and in children whose epilepsy is well controlled by antiepileptic medication. The noninvasive 1H-MRS can be considered an additional diagnostic method to promote early detection of mesial temporal abnormalities that, in the light of this study, seem to be underdiagnosed in children with either temporal lobe epilepsy or other seizure types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Choline / metabolism
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Phosphocreatine / metabolism
  • Seizures, Febrile / diagnosis*
  • Temporal Lobe / metabolism
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology


  • Phosphocreatine
  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Choline