Epilepsy under the scope of ultra-high field MRI

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Ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging (UHF-MRI) is capable of unraveling anatomical structures in a submillimeter range. In addition, its high resonance regime allows the quantification of constitutive molecules in a spatially sensitive manner, a crucial capability for determining the extent and localization of a probable epileptogenic region or the severity of the epilepsy. The main technical challenges for data acquisition under UHF are to produce a strong, homogeneous transverse field, while keeping the tissue power deposition within the safe regulatory guidelines. The nonuniformities caused by destructive and constructive interferences at UHFs required new technologies to accelerate and increase yield regarding time spent and quality achieved. Image quality is the paramount contribution of UHF high-resolution imaging, which is capable to disclose fine details of the hippocampal formation and its surroundings and their changes in the course of epilepsy. Other sequences like diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and multiecho susceptibility imaging at 7 T in vivo can assist the creation of normative atlases of the hippocampal subfields or the reconstruction of the highly arborized cerebral blood vessels. In our review, we specify the impact of these advanced relevant techniques onto the study of epilepsy. In this context, we focused onto high field high-resolution scanners and clinically-enriched decision-making. Studies on focal dysplasias correlating ex vivo high-resolution imaging with specific histological and ultrastructural patterns showed that white matter hyperintensities were related to a demyelination process and other alterations. Preliminary results correlating thick serial sections through bioptic epileptogenic tissue could extend the strategy to localize degenerated tissue sectors, correlate nature and extent of tissue loss with preoperative diagnosis and postoperative outcome. Finally, this protocol will provide the neurosurgeon with a detailed depiction of the removed pathologic tissue and possible adverse effects by the pathologic tissue left in situ.

This article is part of the special issue “NEWroscience 2018”

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