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Somatosensory evoked potentials in adults with cortical dysgenesis and epilepsy.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK.


Cortical dysgenesis (CD) is a well-recognised cause of epilepsy, but its functional anatomy is not fully understood. We recorded cortical somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) in 13 adult patients with epilepsy and various CDs excluding diffuse gyral malformations as diagnosed by MRI. The CD involved the perirolandic/perisylvian region in 7 patients. Six patients had neurological signs but only 3 had sensory dysfunction (astereognosis). As compared with 12 control subjects, SEPs were considered definitely abnormal in 7 patients (including the 6 with neurological signs) and equivocally abnormal in 2. The abnormalities ranged from defects affecting single components to absence of all potentials of cortical origin in one patient with hemiparesis and astereognosis. In this case it appears that gross sensory function must have been mediated by subcortical structures or through diffuse cortical projections. The initial cortical potentials (N20/P20) were absent in 6 patients, 5 of whom had CD in zones involving or bordering on the primary sensory cortex. Parietal potentials following N20 were absent or attenuated in 4 patients and of abnormally wide distribution, spreading to frontal, midline and ipsilateral electrodes, in 3 frontal components following P20 were absent, attenuated, delayed or distorted by abnormal spread of the parietal activity in 5 patients. Five patients with unilateral CD showed definite or equivocal SEP abnormalities to stimulation of both arms, suggesting there may be more widespread disturbance of cortical organisation and/or synaptogenesis, beyond the resolution of present day neuroimaging.

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