The purported underutilization of magnetoencephalography (MEG) among the USA epilepsy centers has never been studied, and any evidence-based understanding of its magnitude is lacking.
Two hundred twenty-five National Association of Epilepsy Centers centers (2016) were invited to participate anonymously in a 13-question web-based survey of clinical practice focused on MEG use.
On average, centers (N = 70; 61 of which were level 4) reported <6 epileptologists, >7 dedicated epilepsy monitoring unit beds, 206 phase 1 studies, 15 phase 2 studies, 10 direct resections, and 9 indirect resections; 27% owned MEG. On average, 11.2 MEGs per year were ordered for epilepsy localization and 7.6 for any presurgical mapping modalities. Wada test aka the intracarotid sodium amobarbital procedure (ISAP) (43%) and functional MRI (29%) were preferred over MEG (4%) for language mapping. The number of epileptologists and the number of epilepsy monitoring unit beds correlated positively with the most clinical volumes. The centers who own a MEG had surgical volumes significantly higher than those without. The number and complexity of patients as well as the proximity of a MEG were perceived as significant contributors/obstacles to increased MEG use.
Only the centers with larger surgical volumes incorporate MEG regularly in presurgical evaluation of patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. A reversal of the pervasive underutilization of epilepsy surgery can benefit from MEG, but this requires a sustained concerted promotion by the epilepsy and MEG communities.