Positron emission tomography with [18F]-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose ([18F]FDG) has been used to assess the pattern of cerebral metabolism in different types of epilepsies. However, PET with [18F]FDG has never been used to evaluate drug naive patients with cryptogenic temporal lobe epilepsy, in whom the mechanism of origin and diffusion of the epileptic discharge may differ from that underlying other epilepsies. In a group of patients with cryptogenic temporal lobe epilepsy, never treated with antiepileptic drugs, evidence has been found of significant interictal glucose hypermetabolism in a bilateral neural network including the temporal lobes, thalami, basal ganglia, and cingular cortices. The metabolism in these areas and frontal lateral cortex enables the correct classification of all patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and controls by discriminant function analysis. Other cortical areas--namely, frontal basal and lateral, temporal mesial, and cerebellar cortices--had bilateral increases of glucose metabolism ranging from 10 to 15% of normal controls, although lacking stringent statistical significance. This metabolic pattern could represent a pathophysiological state of hyperactivity predisposing to epileptic discharge generation or diffusion, or else a network of inhibitory circuits activated to prevent the diffusion of the epileptic discharge.
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