Autoimmune epilepsy: Findings on MRI and FDG-PET.

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Br J Radiol




Autoimmune epilepsy (AE) is becoming increasingly recognized as a potentially reversible cause of frequent or medically intractable seizures and cognitive deterioration. We describe various presentations of autoimmune encephalopathy which have specifically presented with seizure and describe reported imaging findings. This is organized as a review of the more common autoantibodies which can specifically precipitate seizure according to the intracellular or extracellular location of the targeted antigen. For each antibody, we illustrate their pathophysiology, characteristic clinical presentations with typical effective treatments and prognoses and imaging findings on MRI and PET/CT exams. Parenchymal involvement is variable with the limbic structures typically affected; however, non-limbic cortex, cerebellum, brainstem and basal ganglia can also be involved. In the acute setting, affected regions typically demonstrate T hyperintensity with mild mass effect from edema and increased F-FDG uptake. Chronically involved parenchyma will often undergo atrophy and demonstrate decreased metabolism; mesial temporal sclerosis (MTS) is often the end result when the limbic system is involved. Without treatment, long term effects from AE range from ongoing cognitive dysfunction and refractory seizures to death. Familiarity with AE may prompt appropriate antibody screening, particularly in cases of refractory seizure disorders. Early investigation and proper management of AE cases may help to prevent parenchymal and neurologic deterioration in these patients.