• Cerebral;
  • Cerebellar;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Reduction;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging

Summary: Purpose: Adult epilepsy studies have demonstrated cerebral and cerebellar volume reduction beyond the epileptogenic zone, correlating this with an inferior surgical outcome. We determined whether brain volumes were reduced in childhood epilepsy and the significance of this.

Methods: Cerebral, cerebellar, and hippocampal volumes were measured by quantitative magnetic resonance imaging on 112 children (ages 4–18) with epilepsy syndrome determined by video-EEG telemetry. Eighty-seven had partial epilepsy and 25 had generalized epilepsy or indeterminate syndrome. Normative volumes were obtained from 44 child controls from the community.

Results: A significant reduction in cerebral (12.6%) and cerebellar (7.9%) volume was present in the epilepsy group compared with controls. Analysis of subgroups revealed that cerebral volume was significantly decreased in frontal lobe and nonlocalized partial epilepsies. The mean hippocampal ratio of 0.73 for mesial temporal lobe epilepsy was significantly less than for all other syndromes and controls. There was no difference in the rate of hippocampal volume reduction between syndromes. There was a significant correlation between IQ and cerebral and cerebellar volume, but not duration or age of onset of epilepsy.

Conclusions: Cerebral and cerebellar volume reduction is common in intractable epilepsy syndromes of childhood. These cross-sectional data suggest that brain volume reduction is present at epilepsy onset and is not a result of intractable seizures. Hippocampal asymmetry is more sensitive than volume reduction as a marker for mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, but neither measure is specific.