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Epilepsia. 2007 Nov;48(11):2139-49. Epub 2007 Jul 28.

Magnetoencephalography is more successful for screening and localizing frontal lobe epilepsy than electroencephalography.

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Epilepsy Centre Kempenhaeghe, Heeze, The Netherlands.



The diagnosis of frontal lobe epilepsy may be compounded by poor electroclinical localization, due to distributed or rapidly propagating epileptiform activity. This study aimed at developing optimal procedures for localizing interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) of patients with localization related epilepsy in the frontal lobe. To this end the localization results obtained for magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG) were compared systematically using automated analysis procedures.


Simultaneous recording of interictal EEG and MEG was successful for 18 out of the 24 patients studied. Visual inspection of these recordings revealed IEDs with varying morphology and topography. Cluster analysis was used to classify these discharges on the basis of their spatial distribution followed by equivalent dipole analysis of the cluster averages. The locations of the equivalent dipoles were compared with the location of the epileptogenic lesions of the patient or, if these were not visible at MRI with the location of the interictal onset zones identified by subdural electroencephalography.


Generally IEDs were more abundantly in MEG than in the EEG recordings. Furthermore, the duration of the MEG spikes, measured from the onset till the spike maximum, was in most patients shorter than the EEG spikes. In most patients, distinct spike subpopulations were found with clearly different topographical field maps. Cluster analysis of MEG spikes followed by dipole localization was successful (n = 14) for twice as many patients as for EEG source analysis (n = 7), indicating that the localizability of interictal MEG is much better than of interictal EEG.


The automated procedures developed in this study provide a fast screening method for identifying the distinct categories of spikes and the brain areas responsible for these spikes. The results show that MEG spike yield and localization is superior compared with EEG. This finding is of importance for the diagnosis and preoperative evaluation of patients with frontal lobe epilepsy.

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