Total cerebral, temporal lobe, hippocampal, caudate, and lenticular nuclei volumes were quantified from magnetic resonance images of 21 patients with left temporal lobe epilepsy and medically intractable complex partial seizures. These regional brain volumes were compared with the same measures in 19 controls. No significant differences in total cerebral, left temporal lobe, right temporal lobe, or total temporal lobe volumes were found. As expected, left hippocampal volumes were significantly smaller in the patients with epilepsy than in control subjects. The left hippocampus-to-right hippocampus volume ratio was significantly lower in patients than in control subjects. In addition to left hippocampal volumes, mean left thalamic, left caudate, and bilateral lenticular volumes were significantly smaller in the patients with epilepsy than in control subjects. The left-to-right thalamic volume ratio was also significantly lower in the patients with epilepsy compared with control subjects, but there were no significant group differences in caudate or lenticular ratios. These results show that medically intractable temporal lobe epilepsy is associated with volume loss in brain structures outside the presumably involved hippocampus. The pathophysiological significance of our findings is uncertain. They could be related to the underlying cause of the disorder. However, volume loss also may reflect damage due to involvement of these structures in recurrent seizure activity.
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