FG Woermann, MA McLean, PA Bartlett, GJ Barker, JS Duncan
In patients with malformations of cortical development (MCD), widespread structural abnormalities of the brain have been demonstrated using volumetric MRI, and associated with poor post-surgical outcome in patients with localization-related epilepsy. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (1H-MRSI) studies permit the non-invasive measurement of concentrations of a variety of cerebral metabolites implicated in cerebral structure and function. There is a dearth of quantitative 1H-MRSI studies of MCD. Ten controls and 10 patients with localization-related epilepsy who were found to have MCD on high resolution MRI underwent 1H-MRSI on a 1.5 T GE Signa scanner [TE (echo time) = 30 ms, TR (repetition time) = 3 s]. In all patients, the axial area studied contained lesional and perilesional tissue. In seven unilaterally affected patients, the area studied contained also apparently normal contralateral grey and white matter; in three patients with bilateral but asymmetrical MCD, it contained visually normal and abnormal tissue from both hemispheres. N-acetyl aspartate + N-acetyl aspartyl glutamate (NAA), creatine + phosphocreatine (Cr), choline-containing compounds (Cho), glutamate + glutamine (Glx) and myo-inositol (Ins) were automatically quantified in voxels covering these different regions. Metabolite concentrations were corrected for CSF content and correlated with the grey and white matter of the MRSI voxels. In control subjects, there were significant positive correlations between grey matter content and concentrations of NAA, Glx, Ins and Cr. Compared with a normal range that took grey matter content into account, defined as the control mean +/- 2 SD, all lesions but one showed metabolic abnormalities. The most common abnormality was a decrease in NAA, but findings were heterogeneous and there was increased NAA in one lesion. Perilesional tissue was abnormal in eight patients, with increased NAA in three. Tissue contralateral to the main MCD was abnormal in all three patients with bilateral but asymmetrical MCD, and in six of the seven apparently unilaterally affected patients. Spectroscopic grey and white matter abnormalities in patients with MCD exceeded the apparently focal abnormality shown by MRI, indicating widespread abnormalities of cerebral function.