Intracranial EEG in predicting surgical outcome in frontal lobe epilepsy


Address correspondence to Martin Holtkamp, Epilepsie-Zentrum Berlin-Brandenburg, Department of Neurology, Charité– Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany. E-mail:


Purpose:  Surgery in frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) has a worse prognosis regarding seizure freedom than anterior lobectomy in temporal lobe epilepsy. The current study aimed to assess whether intracranial interictal and ictal EEG findings in addition to clinical and scalp EEG data help to predict outcome in a series of patients who needed invasive recording for FLE surgery.

Methods:  Patients with FLE who had resective surgery after chronic intracranial EEG recording were included. Outcome predictors were compared in patients with seizure freedom (group 1) and those with recurrent seizures (group 2) at 19–24 months after surgery.

Key Findings:  Twenty-five patients (16 female) were included in this study. Mean age of patients at epilepsy surgery was 32.3 ± 15.6 years (range 12–70); mean duration of epilepsy was 16.9 ± 13.4 years (range 1–48). In each outcome group, magnetic resonance imaging revealed frontal lobe lesions in three patients. Fifteen patients (60%) were seizure-free (Engel class 1), 10 patients (40%) continued to have seizures (two were class II, three were class III, and five were class IV). Lack of seizure freedom was seen more often in patients with epilepsy surgery on the left frontal lobe (group 1, 13%; group 2, 70%; p = 0.009) and on the dominant (27%; 70%; p = 0.049) hemisphere as well as in patients without aura (29%; 80%; p = 0.036), whereas sex, age at surgery, duration of epilepsy, and presence of an MRI lesion in the frontal lobe or extrafrontal structures were not different between groups. Electroencephalographic characteristics associated with lack of seizure freedom included presence of interictal epileptiform discharges in scalp recordings (31%; 90%; p = 0.01). Detailed analysis of intracranial EEG revealed widespread (>2 cm) (13%; 70%; p = 0.01) in contrast to focal seizure onset as well as shorter latency to onset of seizure spread (5.8 ± 6.1 s; 1.5 ± 2.3 s; p = 0.016) and to ictal involvement of brain structures beyond the frontal lobe (23.5 ± 22.4 s; 5.8 ± 5.4 s; p = 0.025) in patients without seizure freedom. The distribution of ictal onset patterns was similar in both groups, and fast rhythmic activity in the beta to gamma range was found in 57% of seizure-free patients compared to 70% of patients with recurrent seizures. Analysis of the temporal relation between first clinical alterations and EEG seizure onset did not reveal significant differences between both groups of patients. In multivariate analysis, resection in the left hemisphere (odds ratio [OR] 12.197 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.33–111.832; p = 0.027) and onset of seizure spread (odds ratio [OR] 0.733, 95% CI 0.549–0.978, p = 0.035) were independent predictors of ongoing seizures.

Significance:  Widespread epileptogenicity as indicated by rapid onset of spread of ictal activity likely explains lack of seizure freedom following frontal resective surgery. The negative prognostic effect of surgery on the left hemisphere is less clear. Future study is needed to determine if neuronal network properties in this hemisphere point to intrinsic interhemispheric differences or if neurosurgeons are restrained by proximity to eloquent cortex.