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Generation of scalp discharges in temporal lobe epilepsy as suggested by intraoperative electrocorticographic recordings
  1. J L Fernández Torrea,
  2. G Alarcóna,b,
  3. C D Binniea,
  4. J J García Seoaneb,
  5. J Julera,
  6. C N Guyc,
  7. C E Polkeya
  1. aInstitute of Epileptology, King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, UK, bDepartamento de Fisiología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense Madrid 28040, Spain, cImperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Physics Department (Biophysics Group), The Blackett Laboratory, Prince Consort Road, London, UK
  1. Dr Gonzalo Alarcón, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS, UK. Telephone 0044 171 346 5309; fax 0044 171 346 5308


OBJECTIVES To study the variability, topography, polarity, duration, and incidence of interictal epileptiform discharges (EDs) in the scalp EEG and electrocorticogram (ECoG) from 16 patients with temporal lobe epilepsy who underwent surgical treatment.

METHODS Preoperative scalp EEGs during quinalbarbitone induced sleep were compared with preresection ECoGs obtained under general anaesthesia. The analysis was based on the initial ECoG record obtained before activation by intravenous thiopentone, and the EEG during stages I and II of sleep.

RESULTS On the scalp, 15 patients had a single discharge pattern, spikes were predominantly negative, EDs were of largest amplitude at the anterior temporal electrode in 13 patients and mean discharge incidence was 4.0 (SD 4.2) discharges/min. In ECoG recordings, nine patients had two independent ECoG patterns, the polarity of spikes was negative, positive-negative, or positive, the site of maximal amplitude varied greatly between subjects, discharge incidence was 7.3 (SD 3.9) discharges/min. There was no relation between the topography of the largest spikes on the scalp and in the ECoG. In 14 patients, scalp spikes showed statistically significant longer duration on the scalp than in the ECoG. In seven patients who had frequent widespread ECoG discharges, averaging spikes across ECoG channels generated spiky patterns of duration similar to that of scalp spikes.

CONCLUSION It seems that, in temporal lobe epilepsy, scalp discharges originate from widespread ECoG discharges and tend to produce a stereotyped pattern on the scalp with largest amplitudes at the anterior temporal electrodes. This is probably due to local anatomical peculiarities in the brain coverings, such as skull discontinuities, rather than to the location of neuronal generators within the temporal lobe. Due to spatiotemporal averaging, widespread cortical discharges which become asynchronous during propagation appear with increased duration and blunted waveform in the EEG, whereas sharply localised phenomena such as positive focal spikes are not recorded from the scalp.

  • scalp electroencephalography
  • electrocorticography
  • temporal lobe epilepsy
  • epileptiform discharge

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