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  • Author or Editor: Nicholas M. Barbaro x
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Edward F. Chang, Srikantan S. Nagarajan, Mary Mantle, Nicholas M. Barbaro and Heidi E. Kirsch


Routine scalp electroencephalography (EEG) cannot always distinguish whether generalized epileptiform discharges are the result of primary bilateral synchrony or secondary bilateral synchrony (SBS) from a focal origin; this is an important distinction because the latter may be amenable to resection. Whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG) has superior spatial resolution compared with traditional EEG, and can potentially elucidate seizure foci in challenging epilepsy cases in which patients are undergoing evaluation for surgery.


Sixteen patients with medically intractable epilepsy in whom SBS was suspected were referred for magnetic source (MS) imaging. All patients had bilateral, synchronous, widespread, and most often generalized spike-wave discharges on scalp EEG studies, plus some other clinical (for example, seizure semiology) or MR imaging feature (for example, focal lesion) suggesting focal onset and hence possible surgical candidacy. The MS imaging modality is the combination of whole-head MEG and parametric reconstruction of corresponding electrical brain sources. An MEG and simultaneous EEG studies were recorded with a 275-channel whole-head system. Single-equivalent current dipoles were estimated from the MEG data, and dipole locations and orientations were superimposed on patients' MR images.


The MS imaging studies revealed focal dipole clusters in 12 (75%) of the 16 patients, of which a single dipole cluster was identified in 7 patients (44%). Patient age, seizure type, duration of disease, video-EEG telemetry, and MR imaging results were analyzed to determine factors predictive of having clusters revealed on MS imaging. Of these factors, only focal MR imaging anatomical abnormalities were associated with dipole clusters (chi-square test, p = 0.03). Selective resections (including the dipole cluster) in 7 (87%) of 8 patients resulted in seizure-free or rare seizure outcomes (Engel Classes I and II).


Magnetic source imaging may provide noninvasive anatomical and neurophysiological confirmation of localization in patients in whom there is a suspicion of SBS (based on clinical or MR imaging data), especially in those with an anatomical lesion. Identification of a focal seizure origin has significant implications for both resective and nonresective treatment of intractable epilepsy.

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Lilly Tang, Mary Mantle, Paul Ferrari, Hagen Schiffbauer, Howard A. Rowley, Nicholas M. Barbaro, Mitchel S. Berger and Timothy P. L. Roberts

Object. The aim of this study was to evaluate the spatial accuracy of interictal magnetoencephalography (MEG) in localizing the primary epileptogenic focus in comparison with alternative MEG-derived estimates such as ictal onset recording or sensory mapping of the periphery where seizures manifest.

Methods. During this retrospective study of 12 patients with epilepsy who had undergone successful magnetic source (MS) imaging with the aid of a dual 37-channel biomagnetometer as well as simultaneous MEG/electroencephalography (EEG) recordings, ictal events were observed in five patients and quantitative comparisons of interictal spike and ictal seizure onset source localizations were made. In the eight patients who had presented with sensorimotor seizure, source localization of cortical sites concordant with seizure foci was determined using somatosensory functional mapping, and the results were quantitatively compared with interictal spike source localizations.

Interictal spike sources demonstrated on MEG localized to the same region as the corresponding ictal event or somatosensory source localizations. The mean distance between the ictal foci and interictal spike sources was 1.1 ± 0.3 cm. Results of functional somatosensory mapping in patients with sensorimotor seizures demonstrated that seizure sources consistently colocalized with interictal MEG spike sources, with a mean distance of 1.5 ± 0.4 cm. No systematic directional bias was observed. Interictal sources tended to be tightly clustered, and the mean ellipsoid volume, defined by one standard deviation of the source spatial coordinates, was 1 cm3.

Conclusions. Interictal spike localizations on MEG were concordant with ictal and, where relevant, functional somatosensory mapping localizations. These findings support the interpretation of interictal spikes on MEG as a useful and effective noninvasive method for localizing primary seizure foci.