BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: West syndrome is an epileptic encephalopathy characterized by epileptic spasms, a specific pattern on electroencephalography of hypsarrhythmia, and developmental regression. Our aim was to assess white matter abnormalities in West syndrome of unknown etiology. We hypothesized that diffusion tensor imaging reveals white matter abnormalities, especially in patients with poor seizure and developmental outcomes. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We enrolled 23 patients with new-onset West syndrome of unknown etiology. DTI was performed at 12 and 24 months of age. Fractional anisotropy images were compared with those of controls by using tract-based spatial statistics. We compared axial, radial, and mean diffusivity between patients and controls in the fractional anisotropy skeleton. We determined correlations of these parameters with developmental quotient, electroencephalography, and seizure outcomes. We also compared DTI with hypometabolism on fluorodeoxyglucose positron-emission tomography. RESULTS: At 12 months of age, patients showed widespread fractional anisotropy reductions and higher radial diffusivity in the fractional anisotropy skeleton with a significant difference on tract-based spatial statistics. The developmental quotient at 12 months of age correlated positively with fractional anisotropy and negatively with radial and mean diffusivity. Patients with seizure and abnormal findings on electroencephalography after initial treatments had lower fractional anisotropy and higher radial diffusivity. At 24 months, although tract-based spatial statistics did not show significant differences between patients and controls, tract-based spatial statistics in the 10 patients with a developmental quotient of <70 had significant fractional anisotropy reduction. In patients with unilateral temporal lobe hypometabolism on PET, tract-based spatial statistics showed greater fractional anisotropy reduction in the temporal lobe ipsilateral to the side of PET hypometabolism. CONCLUSIONS: Diffuse abnormal findings on DTI at 12 months of age suggest delayed myelination as a key factor underlying abnormal findings on DTI. Conversely, asymmetric abnormal findings on DTI at 24 months may reflect underlying focal pathologies.
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