A new imaging method could help predict which patients are likely to be free of seizures and which ones are likely to experience recurring seizures following brain surgery, according to a study published in the scientific journal Brain.The authors state that there is very little information that can help predict the outcome of surgery in epilepsy, and that this study is the first to rigorously investigate the characteristics of the temporal lobe in a way that can help classify future seizures.The team of international researchers, led by Dr Leonardo Bonilha, at the Medical University of South Carolina, analysed the tissue characteristics of certain areas of the temporal lobe known to be important in the generation and spread of temporal lobe seizures, using an MRI-based imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).They studied 43 people with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, who subsequently underwent surgery, and 44 healthy volunteers.Approximately half of the patients (51.2%) were completely seizure-free following surgery, whilst the other 48.8% continued to experience seizures.When they analysed the results of the DTI, the researchers saw that both the patients who were seizure-free and those who had recurrent seizures following surgery had abnormalities in white matter bundles (areas composed of nerve cell projections) in the temporal lobe, compared with healthy controls. However, certain abnormalities were only present in the brains of patients whose seizures persisted following surgery.Using their newly-developed method, the researchers were able to predict the outcome of brain surgery with 84% sensitivity and 89% specificity.Surgery is a treatment option for some people with drug-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy, but in around half of the cases, it fails to prevent seizures. Being able to predict the outcome of brain surgery could be invaluable in deciding which patient should undergo surgery.Author: Dr Özge ÖzkayaClick here for more articles about brain science including genetics.