Hypothalamic hamartomas (HHs) are disabling congenital lesions, responsible for gelastic seizures frequently associated with catastrophic epilepsies, epileptogenic encephalopathy, and cognitive and psychiatric severe comorbidities. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a well-established minimally invasive therapeutic approach.
To assess whether pretherapeutic gray matter density (GMD) correlates with seizure outcome.
We used voxel-based morphometry at whole-brain level, as depicted on pretherapeutic standard structural magnetic resonance neuroimaging. We examined 24 patients (10 male patients, 14 female patients; mean age, 12.7 yr; median, 9; range, 5.9-50) treated in Marseille University Hospital, France, between May 2001 and August 2018.
Most relevant anatomic area predicting postoperative Engel classes I and II vs III and IV after SRS for HHs was mesencephalic tegmentum. Higher pretherapeutic GMD in this area was associated with better outcomes for seizure cessation. The only other statistically significant clusters were right cerebellar lobule VIIIb and VIIIa. Lower pretherapeutic GMD in both clusters correlated with better Engel class outcomes. GMD decreased with age in the left mediodorsal thalamus.
Seizure cessation after SRS for HHs was associated with higher GMD in mesencephalic tegmental area, acknowledged to be involved in the neural control of explosive vocal behavior in animals. This area is connected by the mamillotegmental bundle to the lateral tuberal nucleus area of the hypothalamus, where HHs are known to rise. In the future, the detection of more gray matter in this “laugh” tegmental area based on pretherapeutic routine structural neuroimaging might help in patient selection for minimally invasive radiosurgery for HH.