Purpose: Current evidence suggests that the mechanisms underlying depth electrode–recorded seizures beginning with hypersynchronous (HYP) onset patterns are functionally distinct from those giving rise to low-voltage fast (LVF) onset seizures. However, both groups have been associated with hippocampal atrophy (HA), indicating a need to clarify the anatomic correlates of each ictal onset type. We used three-dimensional (3D) hippocampal mapping to quantify HA and determine whether each onset group exhibited a unique distribution of atrophy consistent with the functional differences that distinguish the two onset morphologies.
Methods: Sixteen nonconsecutive patients with medically refractory epilepsy were assigned to HYP or LVF groups according to ictal onset patterns recorded with intracranial depth electrodes. Using preimplant magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), levels of volumetrically defined HA were determined by comparison with matched controls, and the distribution of local atrophy was mapped onto 3D hippocampal surface models.
Results: HYP and LVF groups exhibited significant and equivalent levels of HA ipsilateral to seizure onset. Patients with LVF onset seizures also showed significant contralateral volume reductions. On ipsilateral contour maps HYP patients exhibited an atrophy pattern consistent with classical hippocampal sclerosis (HS), whereas LVF atrophy was distributed more laterally and diffusely. Contralateral LVF maps also showed regions of subicular atrophy.
Discussion: The HS-like distribution of atrophy and the restriction of HA to the ipsilateral hippocampus in HYP patients are consistent with focal hippocampal onsets, and suggest a mechanism utilizing intrahippocampal circuitry. In contrast, the bilateral distribution of nonspecific atrophy in the LVF group may reflect mechanisms involving both hippocampal and extrahippocampal networks.