Diagnostic criteria for hippocampal malrotation (HIMAL) on brain MRI typically include a rounded hippocampus, vertical collateral sulcus, and architectural blurring. Relationship to epileptogenesis remains speculative, and usefulness for surgical guidance is unknown. The study was performed to determine the prevalence of hippocampal rotational anomalies in a cohort of pediatric patients with intractable epilepsy undergoing evaluation for surgery and to determine the significance of this finding in the context of surgical planning.
Forty-eight surgically treated children with intractable epilepsy were compared with matched healthy subjects; reviewers were blinded to surgical side. Each temporal lobe was evaluated for rounded hippocampus, blurring, vertical collateral sulcus, wide choroidal fissure, enlarged temporal horn, low fornix, hippocampal signal, and findings of hippocampal sclerosis. A mesial temporal lobe (MTL) score was calculated by summing the number of features, and the collateral sulcus angle (CSA) was measured in each temporal lobe. Surgical side, pathological diagnosis, and imaging findings elsewhere in the brain were tabulated. Presence of HIMAL, associated imaging features, and MTL score were compared between sides, between epilepsy and control groups, in relationship to side of surgery, and in relationship to postoperative outcome.
Only 3 epilepsy patients (6.2%) and no controls exhibited all 3 features of HIMAL (p = 0.12). Eight of 48 (16.7%) epilepsy versus 2 of 48 (4.6%) control subjects had both a rounded hippocampus and vertical collateral sulcus (suggesting HIMAL) (p = 0.045). In control and epilepsy subjects, most findings were more prevalent on the left, and the left CSA was more vertical (p < 0.0001). Epilepsy subjects had higher MTL scores (z = −2.95, p = 0.002) and more acute CSAs (p = 0.04) than controls. Only lateralizing raw MTL score had a significant association with surgical side (p = 0.03, OR 7.33); however, this was not significant when hippocampal sclerosis cases were excluded. HIMAL findings were more prevalent and MTL scores were higher in patients with resections involving the temporal lobes. On group analysis, HIMAL findings did not predict eventual surgical side and did not predict outcome, although the numbers are small. In 4 patients the abnormally rotated hippocampus was resected and showed hippocampal sclerosis and/or dysplastic changes on histopathology. All of these patients had a good outcome after surgery.
While increased in prevalence in children with intractable epilepsy, imaging findings of HIMAL did not have preoperative lateralizing utility in this group. Findings of HIMAL (including round hippocampus, architectural blurring, and vertical collateral sulcus) did not predict outcome after surgery, although the small number of patients with these findings limits evaluation. In the small number of patients in which the malrotated hippocampus was removed, outcome was good. Further research is needed to continue to define this association in children with intractable epilepsy, focusing on a temporal lobe cohort.