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The hazards of lack of co-registration of ictal brain SPECT with MRI: A case report of sinusitis mimicking a brainstem seizure focus

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2385-4-2

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A young woman with encephalitis and refractory seizures underwent brain SPECT during a period of frequent seizure-like episodes, and during a seizure-free period. A focal area of increased radiotracer uptake present only when she was experiencing frequent seizure-like episodes was originally localized to the brainstem, but with later computerized co-registration of SPECT to MRI, was found to lie outside the brain, in the region of the sphenoid sinus.Low-resolution SPECT images present difficulties in interpretation, which can be overcome through co-registration to higher-resolution structural images.Radiotracers used for brain single photon emitted computed tomography (SPECT) pass the blood-brain barrier and bind intracellularly on their first pass through the circulation, providing a "snapshot" of cerebral perfusion at a particular timepoint. When injected during a focal epileptic seizure, an area of significantly increased radiotracer uptake typically corresponds to the region of maximal abnormal activity, often the seizure focus. This ictal pattern of cerebral blood flow can be compared to an interictal/baseline pattern obtained when the patient is not having a seizure, to provide unique information about the nature and location of a patient's epileptic focus, which can be used to guide therapy [See [1] for a review of the use of SPECT in epilepsy].A previously-healthy young woman developed behavioral changes followed by seizures and refractory status epilepticus. She was diagnosed with encephalitis and treated with antiviral and multiple antiepileptic agents. She required nasotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation for respiratory support. She experienced persistent episodes of facial twitching resembling seizures. These episodes were not however associated with an ictal EEG pattern on continuous video/EEG monitoring. To clarify the nature of these episodes, 99mTc-HMPAO was injected during a period of frequent twitching. Brain SPECT showed a prominent foc


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