The incidence of brain abnormalities determined by magnetic resonance in 30 consecutive children presenting with intractable complex partial seizures is reported. Images were optimised to visualise the hippocampus and cortical grey matter. Abnormalities of the hippocampus or temporal lobe were seen in all 19 children with clinical features of temporal lobe epilepsy and in six of the seven children with clinically unlocalised epilepsy. By contrast, in the four children with a clinical diagnosis of extratemporal epilepsy, no temporal or hippocampal abnormalities were seen. Generalised cortical abnormalities of uncertain significance were found in a total of 14 children from all groups. The identification of focal brain abnormalities using optimised magnetic resonance imaging enables early non-invasive assessment of children with intractable seizure disorders and the identification of patients for whom epilepsy surgery may be appropriate. It may also lead to a better understanding of the structural basis of intractable epilepsy, and thereby contribute to early treatment decisions.
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