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J Clin Neurophysiol. 1997 Jul;14(4):311-25.

Use of the intracarotid amobarbital procedure in the evaluation of memory.

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Department of Neurology, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio 44195, U.S.A.


The intracarotid amobarbital procedure (IAP) involves the temporary inactivation of one cerebral hemisphere by the injection of sodium amobarbital, which allows independent testing of the contralateral hemisphere. Initially used for lateralization of language, IAP later found a role in the evaluation of memory function in patients with intractable temporal lobe epilepsy being considered for resective surgery. IAP technique varies widely across centers, but, in general, memory is assessed by presenting the patient with a number of items during the period of hemispheric inactivation and testing recall or recognition of these items after the effect of the drug has worn off. Because the medial temporal lobe is not directly perfused by the internal carotid artery, concerns have been raised about the ability of the IAP to test hippocampal memory function. Consequently, a variety of selective procedures have been devised. Findings on both intracranial EEG recordings and pathologic and neuroimaging studies support the association of IAP memory results with hippocampal function. The IAP memory test was originally designed to predict the risk for development of global amnesia following unilateral temporal lobectomy. More recently, it also has been used as an adjunct in lateralizing the seizure focus and for predicting postoperative selective memory deficits and seizure outcome.

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