Accurate prognosis for epilepsy patients

July 17, 2013

Scientists at Bonn University Hospital and at the Max Planck Institute for neurological research in Cologne have developed a method with which the chances of success of a surgical procedure for temporal lobe epilepsy can be accurately predicted. The rate of accurate predictions is more than 90%. The results are now being presented in the scientific journal "NeuroImage:Clinical."

When many simultaneously fire in the brain, an epileptic seizure results. The most frequent form is . It originates in one of the two temporal lobes which contain, among other things, important structures for coordinating memory. Because many patients do not respond to medication over the long term, the seizure focus in the affected is often removed in a neurosurgical procedure. However, approximately one-third of patients who undergo surgery do not experience any subsequent improvement. "The procedure is associated with risks - therefore a reliable prognosis regarding the chances of success is very important," says Prof. Dr. Bernd Weber from the Department of Epileptology of Bonn University Hospital.

An Algorithm Assesses Patients' Brain Images

At the Life&Brain Center, the Bonn epilepsy specialists, together with scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Cologne, have found a way for the chances of success of a temporal lobe procedure in epilepsy patients to be predicted with a striking degree of accuracy. The researchers used images from magnetic resonance imaging from a total of 49 epilepsy patients who had previously undergone surgical removal of the seizure focus in the left temporal lobe. Using a special computer program developed by Lisa Feis from the Max Planck Institute as a part of her dissertation, the scientists looked at the brain images for differences between the patient group whose seizures had improved following surgery and those with unchanged symptoms. "Using , we trained the algorithm to differentiate in the best possible way between seizure-free and non-seizure-free patients," reports Prof. Weber.

Hitting the Mark with Striking Accuracy

Using the results, the scientists then calculated the chances of success of an intervention and compared them with the actual findings after the surgery. Because the brains of women and men differ, for example in the symmetry of the halves of the brain, the researchers evaluated the data according to gender. The rate of accurate predictions was 96% in the case of female patients and 94% in the case of male patients.

Additional Research Needed

The tests have been performed retrospectively to date: The researchers applied the method retrospectively on patients who have already undergone surgery. As the next step, the scientists want to examine how well the method predicts chances of success in patients who still have yet to undergo a procedure on the temporal lobe. Other university medical centers and even more detailed imaging procedures will be included in this. "At present, we are still at a stage that is too early for clinical application; further research is needed," says Prof. Dr. Christian Elger, director of the Bonn Epilepsy Clinic.

Explore further: Depression common among children with temporal lobe epilepsy

More information: NeuroImage:Clinical DOI: 10.1016/j.nicl.2013.06.010

Related Stories

Depression common among children with temporal lobe epilepsy

May 23, 2013

A new study determined that children and adolescents with seizures involving the temporal lobe are likely to have clinically significant behavioral problems and psychiatric illness, especially depression. Findings published ...

Surgery a safe, effective option for many epilepsy patients

March 23, 2012

Treatment for epilepsy typically focuses on medication, with some patients spending 20 years or more on a variety of drugs in search of effective management of the condition. But a UC Health neurologist says that for many ...

AES: Brain's stress response differs among epilepsy patients

December 4, 2012

(HealthDay)—There is a significant difference in the brain's response to stress among patients with epilepsy who believe stress is an important factor in seizure control compared to those who do not, according to a study ...

Recommended for you

Neuro chip records brain cell activity

October 26, 2016

Brain functions are controlled by millions of brain cells. However, in order to understand how the brain controls functions, such as simple reflexes or learning and memory, we must be able to record the activity of large ...

Can a brain-computer interface convert your thoughts to text?

October 25, 2016

Ever wonder what it would be like if a device could decode your thoughts into actual speech or written words? While this might enhance the capabilities of already existing speech interfaces with devices, it could be a potential ...

The current state of psychobiotics

October 25, 2016

Now that we know that gut bacteria can speak to the brain—in ways that affect our mood, our appetite, and even our circadian rhythms—the next challenge for scientists is to control this communication. The science of psychobiotics, ...

After blindness, the adult brain can learn to see again

October 25, 2016

More than 40 million people worldwide are blind, and many of them reach this condition after many years of slow and progressive retinal degeneration. The development of sophisticated prostheses or new light-responsive elements, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.