Virtual localization of the seizure onset zone: Using non-invasive MEG virtual electrodes at stereo-EEG electrode locations in refractory epilepsy patients

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In some patients with medically refractory epilepsy, EEG with intracerebrally placed electrodes (stereo-electroencephalography, SEEG) is needed to locate the seizure onset zone (SOZ) for successful epilepsy surgery. SEEG has limitations and entails risk of complications because of its invasive character. Non-invasive magnetoencephalography virtual electrodes (MEG-VEs) may overcome SEEG limitations and optimize electrode placement making SOZ localization safer. Our purpose was to assess whether interictal activity measured by MEG-VEs and SEEG at identical anatomical locations were comparable, and whether MEG-VEs activity properties could determine the location of a later resected brain area (RA) as an approximation of the SOZ. We analyzed data from nine patients who underwent MEG and SEEG evaluation, and surgery for medically refractory epilepsy. MEG activity was retrospectively reconstructed using beamforming to obtain VEs at the anatomical locations corresponding to those of SEEG electrodes. Spectral, functional connectivity and functional network properties were obtained for both, MEG-VEs and SEEG time series, and their correlation and reliability were established. Based on these properties, the approximation of the SOZ was characterized by the differences between RA and non-RA (NRA). We found significant positive correlation and reliability between MEG-VEs and SEEG spectral measures (particularly in delta [0.5–4 Hz], alpha2 [10–13 Hz], and beta [13–30 Hz] bands) and broadband functional connectivity. Both modalities showed significantly slower activity and a tendency towards increased broadband functional connectivity in the RA compared to the NRA. Our findings show that spectral and functional connectivity properties of non-invasively obtained MEG-VEs match those of invasive SEEG recordings, and can characterize the SOZ. This suggests that MEG-VEs might be used for optimal SEEG planning and fewer depth electrode implantations, making the localization of the SOZ safer and more successful.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-766
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Epilepsy surgery
  • Functional connectivity
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Refractory epilepsy
  • Stereo-electroencephalography
  • Virtual electrodes

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