Accurate identification of cortical malformations in children with epilepsy can be crucial for successful clinical management. Although standard head-coil magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 1.5 tesla (T) can be used to view the macrostructure of the brain, phased array technology at both 1.5 and 3T significantly improves signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). As a result, spatial resolution and contrast can be optimized to increase visual detection of subtle macrostructural changes that occur with small epileptogenic lesions. In addition, these improvements in SNR allow more accurate quantitative analysis of brain macrostructure and more accurate assessment of brain microstructure using newer sophisticated imaging techniques. For example, phased array imaging enables more accurate diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and 3T imaging, when combined with phased array technology, enables more informative diffusion spectroscopic imaging (DSI). Recent technological improvements therefore result in improved lesion detection and enable assessment of cerebral growth trajectories and associated longitudinal changes in tissue microstructural organization that occur in association with various types of epilepsy. This article presents a brief comparison of imaging techniques currently in use, both clinically and experimentally, to diagnose, treat, and increase our understanding of the neuropathology of epilepsy in the developing brain.
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