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Epilepsy surgery often causes changes in cognition and cerebral glucose metabolism. Our aim was to explore relationships between pre- and postoperative cerebral metabolism as measured with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) and neuropsychological test scores in patients with left mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis (MTLE-HS), who were rendered seizure-free after epilepsy surgery.
Thirteen patients were included. All had neuropsychological testing and an interictal FDG-PET scan of the brain pre- and postoperative. Correlations between changes in neuropsychological test scores and metabolism were examined using statistical parametric mapping (SPM). There were no significant changes in the neuropsychological test scores pre- and postoperatively at the group level. Decreased metabolism was observed in the left mesial temporal regions and occipital lobe. Increased metabolism was observed in the bi-frontal and right parietal lobes, temporal lobes, occipital lobes, thalamus, cerebellum, and vermis. In these regions, we did not find a correlation between changes in metabolism and neuropsychological test scores. A significant negative correlation, however, was found between metabolic changes in the precuneus and Boston Naming Test (BNT) scores.
There are significant metabolic decreases in the left mesial temporal regions and increases in the bi-frontal lobes; right parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes; right thalamus; cerebellum; and vermis in patients with left MTLE-HS who were rendered seizure-free after epilepsy surgery. We could not confirm that these changes translate into significant cognitive changes. A significant negative correlation was found between changes in confrontation naming and changes in metabolism in the precuneus. We speculate that the precuneus may play a compensatory role in patients with postoperative naming difficulties after left TLE surgery. Understanding of these neural mechanisms may aid in designing cognitive rehabilitation strategies.