Is Interictal Temporal Hypometabolism Related to Mesial Temporal Sclerosis? A Positron Emission Tomography/Magnetic Resonance Imaging Confrontation


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. F. Sernah at Clinique Neurologique Paul Castaigne, Hopital de la Salpét riére, 47, Blvd. de l'Hôpital 75651 Pans Cedex 13, France.


Summary: The mechanism of interictal glucose hypometabolism remains unclear, but this abnormality occurs more frequently in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) than in other types of partial epilepsy. Therefore temporal hypometabolism has been suggested to reflect mesial temporal sclerosis (MTS). To investigate this, we selected 22 patients with refractory partial epilepsy of mesial temporal lobe origin (MTLE) who had hippocampal atrophy based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) volumetric analysis. We then analyzed the metabolic correlates of unilateral hippocampal atrophy. Thirteen temporal regions of interest (ROI) were defined on MRI scans for each individual and then applied to high-resolution FDG-positron emission tomography (PET) images obtained parallel to the long axis of the hippocampus. The most hypometabolic regions were the temporal pole and the hippocampal region. When we analyzed ensembles of temporal regions grouped into related networks, the temporolimbic network, which included the hippocampal region and the temporal pole, was abnormal in 95% of the patients at a 3-SD threshold. PET hypometabolism was highly correlated with the degree of hippocampal atrophy in this network, but not in other parts of the temporal lobe, which were less frequently hypometabolic. These data indicate that hypometabolism is a consequence of MTS in the temporolimbic region but not necessarily in the other parts of the temporal lobe. Our results also suggest that the combination of PET and MRI may facilitate the noninvasive diagnosis of MTLE.