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Epilepsia. 2013 May;54(5):793-800. doi: 10.1111/epi.12139.

Optimizing SPECT SISCOM analysis to localize seizure-onset zone by using varying z scores.

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Department of Neurology General Neurology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA.



Subtraction ictal single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) co-registered to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (SISCOM) is a useful modality to identify epileptogenic focus. Using this technique, several studies have generally considered the area of highest ictal hyperperfusion, as outlined by thresholding the difference images with a standard z score of 2, to be highly concordant to the epileptogenic focus. In clinical practice, several factors influence ictal hyperperfusion and using different SISCOM thresholds can be helpful. We aimed to systematically evaluate the localizing value of various z scores (1, 1.5, 2, and 2.5) in a seizure-free cohort following resective epilepsy surgery, and to examine the localizing information of perfusion patterns observed at each z score.


Twenty-six patients were identified as having ictal-interictal SPECT images, preoperative and postoperative MRI studies, and having remained seizure free for at least 6 months after temporal or extratemporal surgical resection. SISCOM analysis was performed using preoperative MRI studies, and then blindly reviewed for localization of hyperperfused regions. With the added information from postoperative, coregistered MRI, perfusion patterns were determined.


Using pair-wise comparisons, we found that the optimal z score for SPECT-SISCOM localization of the epileptogenic zone was 1.5, not the commonly used z score of 2. The z score of 1.5 was 84.8% sensitive and 93.8% specific. The z score of 1.5 had a moderate interrater agreement (0.70). When an hourglass configuration hyperperfusion pattern was present, a trend toward correctly localizing the seizure onset region was suggested (100% of the 11 observed occurrences). Nonetheless this trend was not statistically significant, possibly reflecting the small number of occurrences in our study.


SISCOM is a useful modality in evaluating patients for epilepsy surgery. This study shows that the z score of 1.5 represents a highly sensitive and specific SISCOM threshold that should be examined in conjunction with the traditionally used z score of 2 to enhance the chances of correct localization. Further prospective investigations are needed to confirm this finding in large patient series.

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