Purpose of review: Drug resistance is an important clinical problem: it is associated with higher rates of somatic and psychiatric comorbidities and cognitive/memory decline, with seizures being just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. This review summarizes recent developments in imaging research, focusing specifically on the functional consequence of chronic epilepsies and mechanisms of drug resistance, restricted to work published in 2013.
Recent findings: Functional imaging approaches reliably identify underlying specific networks in patients with different epileptic syndromes, show specific responses to certain antiepileptic drugs and differentiate between responder and nonresponder. Functional MRI (fMRI) and the intracarotid amobarbital test (IAT) are generally congruent, but fMRI may be more sensitive than IAT to right hemisphere language processing. In addition, memory fMRI supports the functional adequacy of ipsilateral structures rather than functional reserve of the contralateral hemisphere. There is further evidence from group analysis of fMRI data for a node within the ipsilateral piriform cortex to be important for seizure modulation in focal refractory epilepsies of different cortical origin. Molecular imaging with verapamil-PET identifies P-glycprotein overexpression as a mechanism contributing to drug resistance in individual patients.
Summary: Neuroimaging in epilepsy has progressed from correlations with demographic, semiologic, neuropsychological and other observational data primarily in patients undergoing presurgical investigations to imaging network connectivity changes in epilepsy syndromes, and testing specific mechanisms underlying drug-resistant epilepsy.