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The role of optical spectroscopy in epilepsy surgery in children

Sanjiv Bhatia, John Ragheb, Mahlon Johnson, Sanghoon Oh, David I. Sandberg, and Wei-Chiang Lin


Surgery is an important therapeutic modality for pediatric patients with intractable epilepsy. However, existing imaging and diagnostic technologies such as MR imaging and electrocochleography (ECoG) do not always effectively delineate the true resection margin of an epileptic cortical lesion because of limitations in their sensitivity. Optical spectroscopic techniques such as fluorescence and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy provide a nondestructive means of gauging the physiological features of the brain in vivo, including hemodynamics and metabolism. In this study, the authors investigate the feasibility of using combined fluorescence and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy to assist epilepsy surgery in children.


In vivo static fluorescence and diffuse reflectance spectra were acquired from the brain in children undergoing epilepsy surgery. Spectral measurements were obtained using a portable spectroscopic system in conjunction with a fiber optic probe. The optical investigations were conducted at the normal and abnormal cortex as defined by intraoperative ECoG and preoperative imaging studies. Biopsy samples were taken from the investigated sites located within the zone of resection. The optical spectra were classified into multiple subsets in accordance with the ECoG and histological study results. The authors used statistical comparisons between 2 given data subsets to identify unique spectral features. Empirical discrimination algorithms were developed using the identified spectral features to determine if the objective of the study was achieved.


Fifteen pediatric patients were enrolled in this pilot study. Elevated diffuse reflectance signals between 500 and 600 nm and/or between 650 and 850 nm were observed commonly in the investigated sites with abnormal ECoG and/or histological features in 10 patients. The appearance of a fluorescent peak at 400 nm was observed in both normal and abnormal cortex of 5 patients. These spectral alterations were attributed to changes in morphological and/or biochemical characteristics of the epileptic cortex. The sensitivities and specificities of the empirical discrimination algorithms, which were constructed using the identified spectral features, were all > 90%.


The results of this study demonstrate the feasibility of using static fluorescence and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy to differentiate normal from abnormal cortex on the basis of intraoperative assessment of ECoG and histological features. It is therefore possible to use fluorescence and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy as an aid in epilepsy surgery.