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Veronica Pelliccia, Francesco Deleo, Francesca Gozzo, Ivana Sartori, Roberto Mai, Massimo Cossu and Laura Tassi

OBJECTIVE

Epilepsy surgery is an effective means of treating focal epilepsy associated with long-term epilepsy-associated tumors. This study evaluated a large population of surgically treated patients with childhood onset of epilepsy and a histologically confirmed diagnosis of long-term epilepsy-associated tumors. The authors analyzed long-term seizure outcomes to establish whether the time of surgery and patients' ages were determinant factors.

METHODS

The authors separately investigated several presurgical, surgical, and postsurgical variables in patients operated on before (pediatric group) and at or after (adult group) the age of 18 years. Patients with < 24 months of postsurgical follow-up were excluded from the analysis.

RESULTS

The patients who underwent surgery before 18 years of age showed better seizure outcomes than those after 18 years of age (80% vs 53.3% Engel Class Ia outcome, respectively; p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that the only variables significantly associated with seizure freedom were complete resection of the lesion, a shorter duration of epilepsy, and temporal lobe resection.

CONCLUSIONS

The findings of this study indicate that pediatric patients are more responsive to epilepsy surgery and that a shorter duration of epilepsy, complete resection, and a temporal lobe localization are determinant factors for a positive seizure outcome.

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Massimo Cossu, Dalila Fuschillo, Giuseppe Casaceli, Veronica Pelliccia, Laura Castana, Roberto Mai, Stefano Francione, Ivana Sartori, Francesca Gozzo, Lino Nobili, Laura Tassi, Francesco Cardinale and Giorgio Lo Russo

OBJECT

Radiofrequency thermocoagulation (RF-TC) of presumed epileptogenic lesions and/or structures has gained new popularity as a treatment option for drug-resistant focal epilepsy, mainly in patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. The role of this minimally invasive procedure in more complex cases of drug-resistant epilepsy, which may require intracranial electroencephalographic evaluation, has not been fully assessed. This retrospective study reports on a case series of patients with particularly complex focal epilepsy who underwent stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) evaluation with stereotactically implanted multicontact intracerebral electrodes for the detailed identification of the epileptogenic zone (EZ) and who received RF-TC in their supposed EZ (according to SEEG findings).

METHODS

Eighty-nine patients (49 male and 40 female; age range 2–49 years) who underwent SEEG evaluation and subsequent RF-TC of the presumed EZ at the authors' institution between January 2008 and December 2013 were selected. Brain MRI revealed structural abnormalities in 43 cases and no lesions in 46 cases. After SEEG, 67 patients were judged suitable for resective surgery (Group 1), whereas surgery was excluded for 22 patients (Group 2). Thermocoagulation was performed in each of these patients by using the previously implanted multicontact recording electrodes and delivering RF-generated currents to adjacent electrode contacts.

RESULTS

The mean number of TC sites per patient was 10.6 ± 7.2 (range 1–33). Sustained seizure freedom occurred after TC in 16 patients (18.0%) (13 in Group 1 and 3 in Group 2). A sustained worthwhile improvement was reported by 9 additional patients (10.1%) (3 in Group 1 and 6 in Group 2). As a whole, 25 patients (28.1%) exhibited a persistent significant improvement in their seizures. More favorable results were observed in patients with nodular heterotopy (p = 0.0001389), those with a lesion found on MRI (not significant), and those with hippocampal sclerosis (not significant). Other variables significantly correlated to seizure freedom were the patient's age (p = 0.02885) and number of intralesional TC sites (p = 0.0271). The patients in Group 1 who did not benefit at all (21 patients) or who experienced only a transient benefit (30 patients) from TC underwent microsurgical resection of their EZ. Thermocoagulation was followed by severe permanent neurological deficits in 2 patients (an unexpected complex neuropsychological syndrome in one patient and an expected and anticipated permanent motor deficit in the other).

CONCLUSIONS

This study provides evidence that SEEG-guided TC in the EZ may be a treatment option for particularly complex drug-resistant focal epilepsy that requires invasive evaluation. A small subset of patients who achieve seizure freedom or worthwhile improvement may avoid open surgery or take advantage of an otherwise unexpected treatment if resection is not an option. Patients with epileptogenic nodular heterotopy are probably ideal candidates for this treatment.

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Massimo Cossu, Marco Schiariti, Stefano Francione, Dalila Fuschillo, Francesca Gozzo, Lino Nobili, Francesco Cardinale, Laura Castana and Giorgio Lo Russo

Object

The authors report on the use of stereoelectroencephalography (stereo-EEG) in the presurgical electroclinical evaluation of infants and very young children with focal drug-resistant epilepsy.

Methods

Fifteen patients (9 girls and 6 boys, mean age 34.1 ± 7.3 months, range 21–45 months), potentially candidates to receive surgical treatment for their focal drug-resistant epilepsy, were evaluated using stereo-EEG recording for a detailed definition of the epileptogenic zone. Stereoelectroencephalography was indicated because neuroradiological (brain MRI) and video-EEG data failed to adequately localize the epileptogenic zone. Stereotactic placement of multicontact intracerebral electrodes was preceded by the acquisition of all pertinent anatomical information from structural and functional MRI and from brain angiography, enabling the accurate targeting of desired structures through avascular trajectories. Stereoelectroencephalography monitoring attempted to record habitual seizures; electrical stimulations were performed to induce seizures and for the functional mapping of eloquent areas. Stereoelectroencephalography-guided microsurgery, when indicated, pointed to removal of the epileptogenic zone and seizure control.

Results

Brain MRI revealed an anatomical lesion in 13 patients (lobar in 2 cases, multilobar or hemispheric in 11 cases) and was unremarkable in 2 patients. One patient underwent 2 stereo-EEG studies. The arrangement of the intracerebral electrodes was unilateral in all but 1 case. One patient died the day following electrode placement due to massive brain edema and profound hyponatremia of undetermined cause. In 8 cases intracerebral electrical stimulations allowed mapping of functionally critical areas; in 3 other cases that received purposeful placement of electrodes in presumably eloquent areas, no functional response was obtained. Of the 14 patients who completed stereo-EEG monitoring, 1 was excluded from surgery for multifocality of seizures and 13 underwent operations. Postoperatively, 2 patients exhibited an anticipated, permanent motor deficit, 3 experienced a transient motor deficit, and 2 experienced transient worsening of a preexisting motor deficit. Three patients developed a permanent homonymous hemianopia after posterior resections. Histological analysis revealed cortical malformations in 10 cases. Of the 10 patients with a postoperative follow-up of at least 12 months, 6 (60%) were seizure-free (Engel Class Ia), 2 (20%) experienced a significant reduction of seizures (Engel Class II), and 2 (20%) were unchanged (Engel Class IV).

Conclusions

The present study indicates that stereo-EEG plays a prominent role in the presurgical evaluation of focal epilepsies also in the first years of life and that it may offer a surgical option in particularly complex cases that would have scarcely benefitted from further medical treatment. Results of stereo-EEG–guided resective surgery were excellent, with 80% of patients exhibiting a substantial improvement in seizures. In consideration of the potentially life-threatening risks of major intracranial surgery in this specific age group, the authors recommend reserving stereo-EEG evaluations for infants with realistic chances of benefiting from surgery.