Objective Secondary generalization of seizures has devastating consequences for patient safety and quality of life. The aim of this intracranial electroencephalography (icEEG) study was to investigate the differences in onset and propagation patterns of temporal lobe seizures that remained focal versus those with secondary generalization, in order to better understand the mechanism of secondary generalization. Methods A total of 39 seizures were analyzed in nine patients who met the following criteria: (1) icEEG-video monitoring with at least one secondarily generalized tonic-clonic seizure (GTCS), (2) pathologically proven hippocampal sclerosis, and (3) no seizures for at least 1 year after anteromedial temporal lobe resection. Seizures were classified as focal or secondary generalized by behavioral analysis of video. Onset and propagation patterns were compared by analysis of icEEG. Results We obtained data from 22 focal seizures without generalization (FS), and 17 GTCS. Seizure-onset patterns did not differ between FS and GTCS, but there were differences in later propagation. All seizures started with low voltage fast activity, except for seven seizures in one patient (six FS, one GTCS), which started with sharply contoured theta activity. Fifteen of 39 seizures started from the hippocampus, and 24 seizures (including six seizures in a patient without hippocampal contacts) started from other medial temporal lobe areas. We observed involvement or more prominent activation of the posterior-lateral temporal regions in GTCS prior to propagation to the other cortical regions, versus FS, which had no involvement or less prominent activation of the posterior lateral temporal cortex. Occipital contacts were not involved at the time of clinical secondary generalization. Significance The posterior-lateral temporal cortex may serve as an important "gateway" controlling propagation of medial temporal lobe seizures to other cortical regions. Identifying the mechanisms of secondary generalization of focal seizures could lead to improved treatments to confine seizure spread.
- Intracranial electroencephalography
- Posterior lateral temporal cortex
- Secondary generalization
- Temporal lobe seizure