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New non-invasive method for diagnosing epilepsy

Date:
August 24, 2012
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
Biomedical engineers have outlined how a new type of non-invasive brain scan taken immediately after a seizure gives additional insight into possible causes and treatments for epilepsy patients. The new findings could specifically benefit millions of people who are unable to control their epilepsy with medication.

Brain scans of test patients using new technology and methods show that the frontal lobe of the brain is most involved in severe seizures.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Minnesota

A team of University of Minnesota biomedical engineers and researchers from Mayo Clinic just published a groundbreaking study that outlines how a new type of non-invasive brain scan taken immediately after a seizure gives additional insight into possible causes and treatments for epilepsy patients. The new findings could specifically benefit millions of people who are unable to control their epilepsy with medication.

The study's findings include:

  • Important data about brain function can be gathered through non-invasive methods, not only during a seizure, but immediately after a seizure.
  • The frontal lobe of the brain is most involved in severe seizures.
  • Seizures in the temporal lobe are most common among adults. The new technique used in the study will help determine the side of the brain where the seizures originate.

"This is the first-ever study where new non-invasive methods were used to study patients after a seizure instead of during a seizure," said Bin He, a biomedical engineering professor in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering and senior author of the study. "It's really a paradigm shift for research in epilepsy."

Epilepsy affects nearly 3 million Americans and 50 million people worldwide. While medications and other treatments help many people of all ages who live with epilepsy, about 1 million people in the U.S. and 17 million people worldwide continue to have seizures that can severely limit their lives.

The biggest challenge for medical researchers is to locate the part of the brain responsible for the seizures to determine possible treatments. In the past, most research has focused on studying patients while they were having a seizure, or what is technically known as the "ictal" phase of a seizure. Some of these studies involved invasive methods such as surgery to collect data.

In the new study, researchers from the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic used a novel approach by studying the brains of 28 patients immediately after seizures, or what is technically know as the "postictal" phase of a seizure. They used a specialized type of non-invasive EEG with 76 electrodes attached to the scalp for gathering data in contrast to most previous research that used 32 electrodes. The researchers used specialized imaging technology to gather data about the patient. The findings may lead to innovative means of locating the brain regions responsible for seizures in individual patients using non-invasive strategies.

"The imaging technology that we developed here at the University of Minnesota allowed us to tackle this research and gather several thousand data points that helped us determine our findings," He said. "The technical innovation was a big part of what helped us make this discovery."

He, who was recently appointed the director of the University of Minnesota's Institute for Engineering in Medicine, said this study was also a good example of a true partnership between engineering and medicine to further medical research.

"The innovations in engineering combined with collaborations with clinicians at Mayo Clinic made this research a reality," He said.

In addition to He, members of the research team included University of Minnesota biomedical engineering Ph.D. student Lin Yang; Gregory A. Worrell, Mayo Clinic, Neurology and Division of Epilepsy; Cindy Nelson, Mayo Clinic, Neurology; and Benjamin Brinkmann, Mayo Clinic, Neurology. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Minnesota. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lin Yang, Gregory A. Worrell, Cindy Nelson, Benjamin Brinkmann, and Bin He. Spectral and spatial shifts of post-ictal slow waves in temporal lobe seizures. Brain, 2012 DOI: 10.1093/brain/aws221

Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "New non-invasive method for diagnosing epilepsy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120824130335.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2012, August 24). New non-invasive method for diagnosing epilepsy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120824130335.htm
University of Minnesota. "New non-invasive method for diagnosing epilepsy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120824130335.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

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