Language lateralization is a major concern in some patients with pharmacoresistant epilepsy who will face surgery; in these patients, hemispheric dominance testing is essential to avoid further complications. The Wada test is considered the gold standard examination for language localization, but is invasive and requires many human and material resources. Functional MRI and tractography with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) have demonstrated that they could be useful for locating language in epilepsy surgery, but there is no evidence of the correlation between the Wada test and DTI MRI in language dominance.
The authors performed a retrospective review of patients who underwent a Wada test before epilepsy surgery at their institution from 2012 to 2017. The authors retrospectively analyzed fractional anisotropy (FA), number and length of fibers, and volume of the arcuate fasciculus and uncinate fasciculus, comparing dominant and nondominant hemispheres.
Ten patients with temporal lobe epilepsy were reviewed. Statistical analysis showed that the mean FA of the arcuate fasciculus in the dominant hemisphere was higher than in the nondominant hemisphere (0.369 vs 0.329, p = 0.049). Also, the number of fibers in the arcuate fasciculus was greater in the dominant hemisphere (881.5 vs 305.4, p = 0.003). However, no differences were found in the FA of the uncinate fasciculus or number of fibers between hemispheres. The length of fibers of the uncinate fasciculus was longer in the dominant side (74.4 vs 50.1 mm, p = 0.05). Volume in both bundles was more prominent in the dominant hemisphere (12.12 vs 6.48 cm3, p = 0.004, in the arcuate fasciculus, and 8.41 vs 4.16 cm3, p = 0.018, in the uncinate fasciculus). Finally, these parameters were compared in patients in whom the seizure focus was situated in the dominant hemisphere: FA (0.37 vs 0.30, p = 0.05), number of fibers (114.4 vs 315.6, p = 0.014), and volume (12.58 vs 5.88 cm3, p = 0.035) in the arcuate fasciculus were found to be statistically significantly higher in the dominant hemispheres. Linear discriminant analysis of FA, number of fibers, and volume of the arcuate fasciculus showed a correct discrimination in 80% of patients (p = 0.024).
The analysis of the arcuate fasciculus and other tract bundles by DTI could be a useful tool for language location testing in the preoperative study of patients with refractory epilepsy.