Transient MRI abnormalities associated with partial status epilepticus: a case report

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1156_1157_Kavuk_JON_1506 25.08.2004 12:27 Uhr Seite 1156

J Neurol (2004) 251 : 1156–1157 DOI 10.1007/s00415-004-0506-0

Ilker Kavuk Susanne Koeppen Markus Agelink Arnd Dörfler Volker Limmroth Hans-Christoph Diener

Transient MRI abnormalities associated with partial status epilepticus Received: 17 April 2003 Received in revised form: 16 March 2004 Accepted: 23 March 2004

Sirs: Neurological disorders of different etiology may cause identical clinical symptoms requiring additional diagnostic procedures for a precise diagnosis. Focal epileptic seizures have been shown to cause increased signal intensities in T2 and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images (MRI), mimicking other neurological disorders or diseases such as viral encephalitis [1]. In some cases even the combination of neuroimaging and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis is not sufficient to obtain the final diagnosis, since epileptic seizures may cause pleocytosis as well. We present three cases of focal status

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Table 1 Summary of Clinical Features

LETTER TO THE EDITORS epilepticus with severe but reversible MRI changes. Three patients with focal status epilepticus who underwent cranial MRI during or within two days of a status epilepticus were studied. Clinical evidence of epileptogenic causes, such as metabolic imbalance, systemic hypertension, encephalitis or hypoxic encephalopathy, was excluded. All patients had suffered a status of a complex partial seizure [2]. They had all recurrent complex partial seizures without full recovery of consciousness between seizures. The seizures in the first case began with impairment of consciousness without other features. We were able to perform MRI during the status, after 7 hours. The status lasted nearly 15 hours and the patient had no motor symptoms. Treatment was with clonazepam intravenously (IV). After a non-response to clonazepam we gave valproate IV which was successful. In the second case complex partial seizure began with cognitive and affective symptoms and the duration was nearly 20 hours. MRI was performed during the phase of returned consciousness (after 9 hours). We began a treatment with valproate IV.

The last case began as a simple partial seizure with initial weakness of the right hand and progressed to impairment of consciousness. This patient underwent cranial MRI within 28 hours. At first we gave lorazepam iv, which improved the motor symptoms, but not the impairment of consciousness. It was while consciousness was impaired (and without motor symptoms) that the patient underwent cranial MRI. Also in this case we began treatment with valproate IV. For establishing the diagnosis of epilepsy, all patients underwent clinical examination, electroencephalography (EEG), analysis of CSF (see Table 1). MRI was performed using a 1.5 Tesla clinical scanner (Sonata, Siemens, Erlangen, Germany). MRI of the head showed focal hyperintensity in the temporo-medial or temporo-polar lobe after a status of complex partial seizure in all patients. The abnormalities were reversible. Many conditions can imitate focal epilepsy of prolonged duration. EEG remains the most sensitive investigation. Also EEG has a prominent position in the diagnostic criteria of the International Classification of Seizures and is


Pat. 1

Pat. 2

Pat. 3

Age of onset (years) Sex First MRI within (h) Follow-up CT CSF Cell count/µl Protein analysis (mg/l) PCR EEG Epileptiform Potentials/Focus

72 M 7 Yes Yes Yes 4 400 Negative Yes Delta-focus in the left temporomedial lobe with spikes and spikewave complexes

56 M 9 Yes Yes Yes 3 190 Negative Yes Theta-delta-focus in the left frontotemporal lobe

50 F 28 Yes Yes Yes 9 284 Negative Yes Delta-focus in the right frontotemporal lobe

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Fig. Patient 1: The MRI revealed a hyperintensity of the left temporo-polar and temporo-medial lobes (FLAIR-Image)

one of the most important tools in advancing our understanding of the pathophysiology of epileptic seizures. Especially it shows specific epileptiform potentials during epileptic status with complex partial seizures. All the different investigations, however, in such cases including the clinical examination, imaging of the brain and EEG have an integrated place in epilepsy management. These cases indicate that MRI changes following focal seizures are reversible over a time window different from the MRI changes associated with other etiologies,

such as viral infection. Our data further suggest that in cases where focal seizures can not be ruled out, follow-up MRI within a few days following the onset of symptoms significantly improves the precision of the differential diagnosis. Optimal timing of neuroimaging with MRI can help to identify patients with a status of complex partial seizures and should also reduce the rate of misdiagnosis of other disorders [3]. The MRI abnormalities associated with partial status epilepticus reflect the fact that a seizure-induced cytotoxic and vasogenic edema appears as a transient signal change [4]. Our described findings and the findings from other authors may be useful for understanding the pathophysiology of seizure-induced brain damage in patients with epilepsy [5].

References 1. El-Koussy M, Mathis J, Lovblad KO, Stepper F, Kiefer C, Schroth G (2002) Focal status epilepticus: follow-up by perfusion- and diffusion MRI. Eur Radiol 12:568–574 2. Blume WT, Luders HO, Mizrahi E, Tassinari C, van Emde Boas W, Engel J Jr (2001) Glossary of Descriptive Terminology for Ictal Semiology: Report of the ILAE Task Force on Classification and Terminology. Epilepsia 42: 1212–1218

3. Weidauer S, Dettmann E, Krakow K, Lanfermann H (2001) Reversible bilateral cortical MRI changes as sequelae of status epilepticus. Nervenarzt 72: 958–962 4. Fabene P, Marzola P, Sbarbati A, Bentivoglio M (2003) Magnetic resonance imaging of changes elicited by status epilepticus in the rat brain: diffusionweighted and T2-weighted images, regional blood volume maps, and direct correlation with tissue and cell damage. Neuroimage 18:375–389 5. Chu K, Kang DW, Kim JY, Chang KH, Lee SK (2001) Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging in nonconvulsive status epilepticus. Arch Neurol 58:993–998 I. Kavuk · S. Koeppen · V. Limmroth · H.-C. Diener Dept. of Neurology University of Duisburg-Essen Hufelandstr. 55 45122 Essen, Germany E-Mail: [email protected] M. Agelink Dept. of Biological Psychiatry & Neuroscience Ruhr-University of Bochum Bochum, Germany A. Dörfler Dept. of Neuroradiology University of Duisburg-Essen Essen, Germany

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