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Significance of interictal bilateral temporal hypometabolism in temporal lobe epilepsy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

M Koutroumanidis, M J Hennessy, P T Seed, R D C Elwes, J Jarosz, R G Morris, M N Maisey, C D Binnie, C E Polkey

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1811 - 1821
Number of pages11
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2000

King's Authors


Objective: To assess the clinical implications and the pathophysiologic determinants of interictal bitemporal hypometabolism (BTH) in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) not associated with bilateral MRI abnormalities or intracranial space-occupying lesions. Methods: The authors compared the clinical, interictal, and ictal EEG, Wada test, and neuropsychology data of 15 patients with intractable complex partial seizures of temporal lobe origin and BTH with those of 13 consecutive patients with unilateral TLE associated with unilateral temporal hypometabolism (UTH) who remained seizure free for more than 3 years after anterior temporal lobectomy. F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose PET scans were analyzed visually and semiquantitatively, and ratios of counts in individual temporal areas to the rest of the cerebrum were compared with the corresponding values from 11 normal control subjects and with the nonepileptogenic hemisphere of the 13 patients with UTW. BTH was defined as more than 2.5 SDs below control values for two or more temporal areas on each side irrespective of any asymmetry. Results: BTH reflected bilateral independent seizure onset in eight patients (53%). The topography of the metabolic depression was not a reliable predictor of epileptogenicity, but involvement of the inferior temporal gyrus was related specifically to ipsilateral seizure onset (70% sensitivity, 100% specificity). In patients with unilateral TLE, contralateral hypometabolism was associated with longer disease duration and worst memory performance during the Wada test, which amounted to global amnesia after ipsilateral injection in three patients, precluding surgical treatment. Contralateral seizure spread in the ictal EEG was significantly faster in patients with BTH. Conclusions: In TLE, symmetric or asymmetric BTH may signal bilateral independent seizure onset in approximately half the patients, especially when involving the inferior temporal gyrus. Alternatively, it may reflect an advanced stage of the disease process, characterized by a breakdown of the inhibitory mechanisms in the contralateral hemisphere, and secondary memory deficit associated with higher risk of postoperative memory decline. Patients with TLE and BTH but without bilateral MRI changes may still be operated on successfully, but surgical suitability should be proved by comprehensive intracranial EEG studies and Wada test.

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