Epileptic Disorders


Neuroimaging of focal cortical dysplasia: neuropathological correlations Volume 5, numéro 2, June 2003

Neuroradiology Department; Pathology Department and Epilepsy Surgery Centre Claudio Munari‘, Ospedale Cà Granda Niguarda; Department of Experimental Neurophysiology and Epileptology, Istituto Nazionale Neurologico C.Besta, Milano, Italy

Focal cortical dysplasia is a well‐known cause of intractable epilepsy with early onset of seizures, and is potentially amenable to surgical therapy. It was first described by Taylor in 1971 as a peculiar malformative disorganisation of the neocortex characterised at histology by loss of cortical lamination and accompanied by giant, dysmorphic neurones and, most frequently, by balloon cells‘ littered throughout the cortex and sub‐cortical white matter. While in the past decades the term cortical dysplasia‘ has referred to various malformations of cortical development, such as agyria, pachygyria, polymicrogyria, heterotopia and hemimegalencephaly, it is now widely accepted that the entity identified by Taylor should be considered separately, from both histological and neuroimaging standpoints. More recently, the recognition of various histological subtypes of focal cortical dysplasia characterised by different degrees of cortical disruption with or without cytological abnormalities has generated several classifications that are still unsatisfactory. With better magnetic resonance capability, subtle and very small focal cortical dysplasias may now be visualised and the differential magnetic resonance aspects of the histological subgroups can be established. We will discuss the problem of histopathological classification and magnetic resonance imaging differentiation of the various subtypes of focal cortical dysplasia in the light of personal data collected from a large series of epileptic patients who underwent surgery and had a histological diagnosis of focal cortical dysplasia.