Scalp electroencephalographic (EEG)–functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies suggest that the maximum blood oxygen level‐dependent (BOLD) response to an interictal epileptiform discharge (IED) identifies the area of IED generation. However, the maximum BOLD response has also been reported in distant, seemingly irrelevant areas. Given the poor postoperative outcomes associated with extra‐temporal lobe epilepsy, we hypothesized this finding is more common when analyzing extratemporal IEDs as compared to temporal IEDs. We further hypothesized that a subjective, holistic assessment of other significant BOLD clusters to identify the most clinically relevant cluster could be used to overcome this limitation and therefore better identify the likely origin of an IED. Specifically, we also considered the second maximum cluster and the cluster closest to the electrode contacts where the IED was observed.
Maps of significant IED‐related BOLD activation were generated for 48 different IEDs recorded from 33 patients who underwent intracranial EEG‐fMRI. The locations of the maximum, second maximum, and closest clusters were identified for each IED. An epileptologist, blinded to these cluster assignments, selected the most clinically relevant BOLD cluster, taking into account all available clinical information. The distances between these BOLD clusters and their corresponding IEDs were then measured.
The most clinically relevant cluster was the maximum cluster for 56% (27/48) of IEDs, the second maximum cluster for 13% (6/48) of IEDs, and the closest cluster for 31% (15/48) of IEDs. The maximum clusters were closer to IED contacts for temporal than for extratemporal IEDs (p = .022), whereas the most clinically relevant clusters were not significantly different (p = .056).
The maximum BOLD response to IEDs may not always be the most indicative of IED origin. We propose that available clinical information should be used in conjunction with EEG‐fMRI data to identify a BOLD cluster representative of the IED origin.