Subtraction ictal SPECT co-registered to MRI improves clinical usefulness of SPECT in localizing the surgical seizure focus

T. J. O'Brien, E. L. So, B. P. Mullan, M. F. Hauser, B. H. Brinkmann, N. I. Bohnen, D. Hanson, G. D. Cascino, C. R. Jack, F. W. Sharbrough

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388 Scopus citations


Traditional side-by-side visual interpretation of ictal and interictal single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans can be difficult in identifying the surgical focus, particularly in patients with extratemporal or otherwise unlocalized intractable epilepsy. Computer-aided subtraction ictal SPECT co-registered to MRI (SISCOM) may improve the clinical usefulness of SPECT in localizing the surgical seizure focus. We studied 51 consecutive intractable partial epilepsy patients who had interictal and ictal scans. The SPECT studies were blindly reviewed and classified as either localizing to I of 16 sites in the brain or as nonlocalizing. SISCOM images were localizing in 45 of 51 (88.2%) compared with 20 of 51 (39.2%) for traditional side-by- side inspection of ictal and interictal SPECT images (p < 0.0001). Inter- rater agreement for two independent reviewers was better for SISCOM (84.3% versus 41.2%, κ = 0.83 versus 0.26; p < 0.0001). Concordance of seizure localization with the more established tests was also higher for SISCOM. Late injection of the radiotracer (>45 seconds), but not secondary generalization of the seizure, was associated with a falsely localizing or nonlocalizing SISCOM. Epilepsy surgery patients whose SISCOM localization was concordant with the surgical site were more likely to have excellent outcome than patients with nonconcordant or nonlocalizing findings (62.5% [10/16] versus 20% [2/10]; p < 0.05). On the other hand, seizure localization by the traditional method of SPECT inspection had no significant association with postsurgical outcome. We conclude that SISCOM improves the sensitivity and the specificity of SPECT in localizing the seizure focus for epilepsy surgery. Concordance between SISCOM localization and site of surgery is predictive of postsurgical improvement in seizure outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-454
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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