Functional brain imaging by either single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) or positron emission tomography (PET) is now a well-established technique in the diagnosis and evaluation of the epilepsies. Perhaps only in stroke have these emerging technologies proven of greater significance. Scalp, cortical, or depth electroencephalographic (EEG) data previously have been the gold standards for the localization and subcharacterization of epileptic activity in the human brain. Yet, they are fraught with difficult interpretations, technical difficulties, and limitations in sampling accuracy. Both SPECT and PET have localizing power approaching that of combined scalp and depth EEG. In the following discussion, a brief overview of the results of PET investigations in epilepsy is presented as background and comparative material for the concurrent and, more recently, dominant role of SPECT in evaluating patients with seizure activity. SPECT results in the interictal state in partial and generalized seizure activity are reviewed followed by an analysis of the role of ictal SPECT imaging in epilepsy. Next, relationships among interictal hypoperfusion (or hypometabolism) and computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, neuropathology, clinical severity, and cognitive function are discussed. The role of perfusion or metabolism imaging in the management of antiepileptic pharmacotherapy is also discussed, and the potential for receptor imaging in the evaluation of the epilepsies is examined. Finally, application in pediatric epilepsy are presented.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging