Functional MRI, now a full-fledged clinical service at UF Health, is used to identify ‘eloquent’ cortex in patients in whom there is concern that the seizure focus may be physically close to important brain areas for sensation, motor function or language. Our neuroradiology team employs a full suite of fMRI protocols involving finger tapping, skin sensation, visual function, interpreting speech, reading, etc. to identify these eloquent areas. Results from fMRI, commonly combined with diffusion tensor tractography (DTI), are reviewed with the rest of the patient data to provide the team with a ‘map’ of how important brain areas relate to the seizure focus.
Information for patients
Functional MRI (fMRI) is a unique type of scan, where you will be asked to do something – like tap you finger, or listen to a story, or some other ‘functional task’ – while the scan is undertaken. By doing the scan while you are performing some specific ‘function’, doctors can see that part of the brain which is important for that function. Such knowledge is particularly important if the seizure disorder is close to an important functional area, so that the functional area can be kept safe if the seizure area is operated on for the treatment of epilepsy. The fMRI scan itself consists of lying still within the MRI machine for about an hour and following specific instructions. MRI machines are noisy, and patients are provided earplugs and may listen to music while some portions of the scan take place. The results of the fMRI scan are then communicated to your treatment team, who review the data along with all the other information pertaining to your seizure problem to come up with the best treatment plan for you.