The authors report on the use of stereoelectroencephalography (stereo-EEG) in the presurgical electroclinical evaluation of infants and very young children with focal drug-resistant epilepsy.
Fifteen patients (9 girls and 6 boys, mean age 34.1 ± 7.3 months, range 21–45 months), potentially candidates to receive surgical treatment for their focal drug-resistant epilepsy, were evaluated using stereo-EEG recording for a detailed definition of the epileptogenic zone. Stereoelectroencephalography was indicated because neuroradiological (brain MRI) and video-EEG data failed to adequately localize the epileptogenic zone. Stereotactic placement of multicontact intracerebral electrodes was preceded by the acquisition of all pertinent anatomical information from structural and functional MRI and from brain angiography, enabling the accurate targeting of desired structures through avascular trajectories. Stereoelectroencephalography monitoring attempted to record habitual seizures; electrical stimulations were performed to induce seizures and for the functional mapping of eloquent areas. Stereoelectroencephalography-guided microsurgery, when indicated, pointed to removal of the epileptogenic zone and seizure control.
Brain MRI revealed an anatomical lesion in 13 patients (lobar in 2 cases, multilobar or hemispheric in 11 cases) and was unremarkable in 2 patients. One patient underwent 2 stereo-EEG studies. The arrangement of the intracerebral electrodes was unilateral in all but 1 case. One patient died the day following electrode placement due to massive brain edema and profound hyponatremia of undetermined cause. In 8 cases intracerebral electrical stimulations allowed mapping of functionally critical areas; in 3 other cases that received purposeful placement of electrodes in presumably eloquent areas, no functional response was obtained. Of the 14 patients who completed stereo-EEG monitoring, 1 was excluded from surgery for multifocality of seizures and 13 underwent operations. Postoperatively, 2 patients exhibited an anticipated, permanent motor deficit, 3 experienced a transient motor deficit, and 2 experienced transient worsening of a preexisting motor deficit. Three patients developed a permanent homonymous hemianopia after posterior resections. Histological analysis revealed cortical malformations in 10 cases. Of the 10 patients with a postoperative follow-up of at least 12 months, 6 (60%) were seizure-free (Engel Class Ia), 2 (20%) experienced a significant reduction of seizures (Engel Class II), and 2 (20%) were unchanged (Engel Class IV).
The present study indicates that stereo-EEG plays a prominent role in the presurgical evaluation of focal epilepsies also in the first years of life and that it may offer a surgical option in particularly complex cases that would have scarcely benefitted from further medical treatment. Results of stereo-EEG–guided resective surgery were excellent, with 80% of patients exhibiting a substantial improvement in seizures. In consideration of the potentially life-threatening risks of major intracranial surgery in this specific age group, the authors recommend reserving stereo-EEG evaluations for infants with realistic chances of benefiting from surgery.