Status Epilepticus and Periictal Imaging


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. A. J. Cole at MGH Epilepsy Service, VBK-830, Massachusetts General Hospital, Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, U.S.A. E-mail:


Summary:  Peri- and postictal changes on both anatomic and functional imaging examinations have been recognized for many years. With the wide availability of magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography, a growing range of recognized acute imaging findings have been described. Periictal and postictal findings can be classified as either local or remote, with respect to the site of maximal ictal EEG abnormality. Although many of the findings described are reversible, the factors that determine whether findings will resolve are incompletely understood. This article considers the range of findings that have been described, places them into the context of known or hypothesized pathophysiologic mechanisms, and considers their clinical significance. A framework is proposed for considering the relation between ictal duration and severity, the characteristics of imaging abnormalities, and the mechanism of their underlying pathophysiology.