Insular Epilepsy: Semiology and Noninvasive Investigations

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In this review, authors discuss the semiology and noninvasive investigations of insular epilepsy, an underrecognized type of epilepsy, which may mimic other focal epilepsies. In line with the various functions of the insula and its widespread network of connections, insular epilepsy may feature a variety of early ictal manifestations from somatosensory, visceral, olfactory, gustatory, or vestibular manifestations. Depending on propagation pathways, insular seizures may also include altered consciousness, dystonic posturing, complex motor behaviors, and even autonomic features. Considering the variability in seizure semiology, recognition of insular epilepsy may be challenging and confirmation by noninvasive tests is warranted although few studies have assessed their value. Detection of an insular lesion on MRI greatly facilitates the diagnosis. Scalp EEG findings in frontocentral and/or temporal derivations will generally allow lateralization of the seizure focus. Ictal single-photon computed tomography has moderate sensitivity, whereas positron emission tomography has lower sensitivity. Among newer techniques, magnetoencephalography is highly beneficial, whereas proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy currently has limited value.

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