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J Nucl Med. 2013 Aug;54(8):1270-7. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.112.107359. Epub 2013 Jul 15.

18F-flumazenil: a γ-aminobutyric acid A-specific PET radiotracer for the localization of drug-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy.

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  • 1Departments of Medicine and Neurology, Melbourne Brain Centre, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne, Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Studies report that (11)C-flumazenil (FMZ) PET more specifically localizes the epileptogenic zone in patients with medically refractory focal epilepsy than (18)F-FDG PET. However, practical aspects of (11)C use limit clinical application. We report a phase I/IIa study assessing the clinical use of (18)F-FMZ PET for the localization of the epileptogenic zone in patients with drug-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Receptor binding was quantified using kinetic modeling that did not require arterial sampling.


Dynamic (18)F-FMZ PET and static interictal (18)F-FDG PET scans were compared in healthy controls (n = 17 for (18)F-FMZ and n = 20 for (18)F-FDG) and TLE patients with mesial temporal sclerosis on MR imaging (MTS, n = 12) and with normal MR imaging (NL TLE, n = 19). Masked visual assessment of images was undertaken. Parametric images of (18)F-FMZ binding potential (BPND) were generated using the simplified reference tissue model. Region-of-interest analysis on coregistered MR images and statistical parametric mapping were used to quantify (18)F-FMZ BPND and (18)F-FDG uptake in the temporal lobe.


The visual assessment of static standardized uptake value images showed (18)F-FMZ PET to have high specificity (16/17 [94%]) and moderate sensitivity (21/31 [68%]) for the localization of the epileptogenic zone, with a more restricted abnormality than (18)F-FDG PET. However, the (18)F-FMZ standardized uptake value images were falsely localizing in 3 of 31 patients (10%). Region-of-interest analysis demonstrated reductions in ipsilateral hippocampal (18)F-FMZ BPND in patients with either MTS or NL TLE, compared with controls subjects. Ipsilateral hippocampal (18)F-FMZ BPND was independent of both hippocampal volume and (18)F-FDG uptake, whereas ipsilateral hippocampal volume was correlated with (18)F-FDG uptake (r(2) = 0.69, P < 0.0001). Statistical parametric mapping analysis demonstrated decreased uptake in 14 of 31 (45%) cases with (18)F-FMZ PET and 18 of 29 (62%) with (18)F-FDG PET. Cluster size was significantly smaller on (18)F-FMZ than (18)F-FDG images (37 vs. 160 voxels, P < 0.01).


(18)F-FMZ PET has potential as a clinical tool for the localization of the epileptogenic zone in the presurgical evaluation of drug-resistant TLE, providing information complementary to (18)F-FDG PET, with a more restricted region of abnormality.


18F-flumazenil; FDG; fluorodeoxyglucose; positron emission tomography; temporal lobe epilepsy

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