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Epilepsia. 2011 Sep;52(9):1725-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03172.x. Epub 2011 Jul 19.

Functional neuroimaging in startle epilepsy: involvement of a mesial frontoparietal network.

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1
Epilepsy Unit, Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. santiago.fernandez@hospitalplato.com

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Startle epilepsy is a rare form of epilepsy with seizures triggered by unexpected stimuli. Previous studies have suggested the participation of several brain regions, such as the supplementary motor area (SMA) or the mesial aspect of the frontal and parietal lobes in the generation of startle epilepsy. However, how these brain regions interact with each other during seizures remains largely unknown. The aim of this study was to get insight into brain structures involved in startle-induced seizures using an approach with functional neuroimaging.

METHODS:

Four patients with startle epilepsy secondary to unexpected sounds were studied. All of them underwent a presurgical evaluation including ictal-single-emission computed tomography/subtraction ictal SPECT coregistered to MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) (SPECT/SISCOM). We searched for areas with ictal changes of perfusion higher than two standard deviations (2 SD) above the reference. In one patient, a fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) and an ictal electroencephalography-functional MRI (EEG-fMRI) were also performed. In this patient, the results of FDG-PET and sequential analysis of EEG-fMRI were compared to SISCOM.

KEY FINDINGS:

All the patients had their typical startle-induced seizures, consistent with bilateral asymmetric tonic seizures. Ictal-EEG pattern was located over the mesial centroparietal region in all of them. In three of four patients, a significant hyperperfusion over the mesial frontocentral region was seen, involving the SMA, the perirolandic region, and the precuneus. In one patient, who had a congenital bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria, it was located over the lateral perirolandic region. 18F-FDG-PET results in the patient in whom it was done, were concordant with SISCOM findings. Ictal EEG-fMRI showed an initial activation located over the precuneus, SMA, cingulate gyrus, and the precentral/perirolandic area.

SIGNIFICANCE:

By using a functional neuroimaging approach we have found that startle-induced seizures could be generated by the interaction of a frontoparietal network located over the mesial surface of the brain.

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