Mutations in the sodium channel alpha 1 subunit gene (SCN1A) have been associated with a wide range of epilepsy phenotypes including Dravet syndrome. There currently exist few histopathological and surgical outcome reports in patients with this disease. In this case series, the authors describe the clinical features, surgical pathology, and outcomes in 6 patients with SCN1A mutations and refractory epilepsy who underwent focal cortical resection prior to uncovering the genetic basis of their epilepsy.
Medical records of SCN1A mutation-positive children with treatment-resistant epilepsy who had undergone resective epilepsy surgery were reviewed retrospectively. Surgical pathology specimens were reviewed.
All 6 patients identified carried diagnoses of intractable epilepsy with mixed seizure types. Age at surgery ranged from 18 months to 20 years. Seizures were refractory to surgery in every case. Surgical histopathology showed evidence of subtle cortical dysplasia in 4 of 6 patients, with more neurons in the molecular layer of the cortex and white matter.
Cortical resection is unlikely to be beneficial in these children due to the genetic defect and the unexpected neuropathological finding of mild diffuse malformations of cortical development. Together, these findings suggest a diffuse pathophysiological mechanism of the patients’ epilepsy which will not respond to focal resective surgery.