, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 119–127 | Cite as

Amygdala enlargement in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy: an alternative imaging presentation of limbic epilepsy

  • Aristides A. CapizzanoEmail author
  • Hiroto Kawasaki
  • Rup K. Sainju
  • Patricia Kirby
  • John Kim
  • Toshio Moritani
Diagnostic Neuroradiology



To assess imaging, clinical, and pathological features of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (mTLE) patients with amygdala enlargement (AE) in comparison with those with mesial temporal sclerosis (MTS).


Clinical, imaging, and pathologic features were retrospectively reviewed in 40 mTLE patients with postoperative follow-up (10 with AE and 30 with MTS). The volumes and signal intensity of the amygdala and hippocampus were assessed in 10 AE, 10 age- and sex-matched MTS patients, and 12 controls (HC).


AE patients had a lower rate of concordant FDG PET (p < 0.05) and required more frequently intracerebral electrodes compared to MTS patients (p < 0.05). AE had larger ipsilateral amygdala (p < 0.0001) and hippocampus volumes (p < 0.0001) compared to MTS and to HC, with no significant differences for other brain structures. Normalized FLAIR signal was higher in the ipsilateral than contralateral amygdala in both AE and MTS (p < 0.001 and p < 0.05, respectively) and higher in the ipsilateral amygdala compared to HC (p < 0.05). In MTS, ADC in the ipsilateral amygdala (867 mm2/s) was higher compared to the contralateral one (804.8 × 10–6 mm2/s, p < 0.01), compared to HC (773 × 10–6 mm2/s, p < 0.01) and compared to the ipsilateral amygdala in AE (813.7 × 10–6 mm2/s, p < 0.05). AE patients had dysplasia (50%) or astrocytic gliosis (50%) of the amygdala extending to the hippocampus and temporal isocortex, and only 2/10 cases had pathologic findings of MTS.


AE patients have distinct imaging and pathologic features compared to MTS, and require more extensive preoperative workup. Recognition of AE may improve preoperative assessment in TLE surgical candidates.


Epilepsy MRI Amygdala Hippocampus Limbic lobe 


Compliance with ethical standards


No funding was received for this study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in the studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study formal consent is not required.

Informed consent

For this type of retrospective study formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aristides A. Capizzano
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hiroto Kawasaki
    • 2
  • Rup K. Sainju
    • 3
  • Patricia Kirby
    • 4
  • John Kim
    • 5
  • Toshio Moritani
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Radiology, Division of NeuroradiologyUniversity of Iowa Carver College of MedicineIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurosurgeryUniversity of Iowa Carver College of MedicineIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyUniversity of Iowa Carver College of MedicineIowa CityUSA
  4. 4.Department of PathologyUniversity of Iowa Carver College of MedicineIowa CityUSA
  5. 5.Department of RadiologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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