While the etiology of hippocampal sclerosis (HS) in epilepsy patients remains unknown, distinct phenotypes of hippocampal subfield atrophy have been associated with different clinical presentations and surgical outcomes. The advent of novel techniques including ultra-high field 7T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and automated subfield volumetry have further enabled detection of hippocampal pathology in patients with epilepsy, however, studies combining both 7T MRI and automated segmentation in epilepsy patients with normal-appearing clinical MRI are limited. In this study, we present a novel application of the automated segmentation of hippocampal subfields (ASHS) software to determine subfield volumes of the CA1, CA2/3, CA4/DG, and the subiculum using ultra high-field 7T MRI scans, including T1-weighted MP2RAGE and T2-TSE sequences, in 27 patients with either mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (mTLE) or neocortical epilepsy (NE) compared to age and gender matched healthy controls. We found that 7T improved visualization of structural abnormalities not otherwise seen on clinical strength MRIs in patients with unilateral mTLE. Additionally, our automated segmentation algorithm was able to detect structural differences in volume and asymmetry across hippocampal subfields in unilateral mTLE patients compared to controls. Specifically, amongst unilateral mTLE patients with longer disease durations, volume loss was observed in the ipsilateral CA1 and CA2/3 subfields and contralateral CA1. There were no differences in subfield volumes in patients with NE compared to controls. We report the first application of 7T with automated segmentation to characterize the relationship between disease duration burden and asymmetry across specific hippocampal subfields in this population. Disease duration was found to have a statistically significant positive relationship with subfield asymmetry within the unilateral mTLE cohort. These findings highlight the ability of 7T MRI and automated segmentation to provide novel qualitative and quantitative information in epilepsy patients who are otherwise MRI-negative at clinical field strengths.
- 7T MRI