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Keywords:

  • Insula;
  • Stereoelectroencephalographic;
  • Oblique electrode;
  • Electrical stimulation;
  • Epilepsy

Summary

Purpose: Different lines of evidence suggest that the insular cortex has many important functional roles. Direct electrical stimulation (ES) of the human insular cortex during surgical procedures for epilepsy, functional imaging techniques, and lesion studies also occasionally induces clinical responses.

Methods: In this study, we evaluated 25 patients with drug-refractory focal epilepsy by stereotactically implanting at least one electrode into the insular cortex using an oblique approach (transfrontal or transparietal). One hundred twenty-eight insular sites (each situated between two contiguous contacts within the same electrode) were examined within the gyral substructures. We located each stimulation site by fusing preimplantation three-dimensional (3D) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images with the postimplantation 3D computed tomography (CT) scans that revealed the electrode contacts.

Results: Sixty-seven stimulations induced at least one clinical response. Stimulation from within the insular cortex evoked 83 responses, without evidence of afterdischarge in the insular or extrainsular regions. We classified the principal responses as sensory (paresthesias and localized warm sensations), motor, pain, auditory, oropharyngeal, speech disturbances (including speech arrest and reduced voice intensity) and neurovegetative phenomena, such as facial reddening, generalized sensations of warmth or cold, hypogastric sensations, anxiety attacks, respiratory accelerations, sensations of rotation, and nausea.

Conclusions: These findings may indicate a functional specificity for the insular gyri and show the need for exploring this structure during invasive presurgical evaluation of epileptic patients according to seizure manifestations.