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Brain. 2011 Oct;134(Pt 10):2887-97. doi: 10.1093/brain/awr243.

Electroencephalographic source imaging: a prospective study of 152 operated epileptic patients.

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Department of Basic and Clinical Neurosciences, University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland.


Electroencephalography is mandatory to determine the epilepsy syndrome. However, for the precise localization of the irritative zone in patients with focal epilepsy, costly and sometimes cumbersome imaging techniques are used. Recent small studies using electric source imaging suggest that electroencephalography itself could be used to localize the focus. However, a large prospective validation study is missing. This study presents a cohort of 152 operated patients where electric source imaging was applied as part of the pre-surgical work-up allowing a comparison with the results from other methods. Patients (n = 152) with >1 year postoperative follow-up were studied prospectively. The sensitivity and specificity of each imaging method was defined by comparing the localization of the source maximum with the resected zone and surgical outcome. Electric source imaging had a sensitivity of 84% and a specificity of 88% if the electroencephalogram was recorded with a large number of electrodes (128-256 channels) and the individual magnetic resonance image was used as head model. These values compared favourably with those of structural magnetic resonance imaging (76% sensitivity, 53% specificity), positron emission tomography (69% sensitivity, 44% specificity) and ictal/interictal single-photon emission-computed tomography (58% sensitivity, 47% specificity). The sensitivity and specificity of electric source imaging decreased to 57% and 59%, respectively, with low number of electrodes (<32 channels) and a template head model. This study demonstrated the validity and clinical utility of electric source imaging in a large prospective study. Given the low cost and high flexibility of electroencephalographic systems even with high channel counts, we conclude that electric source imaging is a highly valuable tool in pre-surgical epilepsy evaluation.

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