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Around 1 per cent of the global population is estimated to have epilepsy, a serious neurological condition characterized by frequent seizures. Sadly, there is no cure for epilepsy yet. There are drugs, medical devices, and surgical options to control or stop seizures. But many of the patients do not respond to medications. An international research team led by University College London brings a new hope for people living with epilepsy. They have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that can detect subtle brain abnormalities that cause epileptic seizures.
Using their new AI algorithm, they were able to spot abnormalities in focal cortical dysplasia (FCDs), which are a leading cause of drug-resistant epilepsy. Drug-resistant focal cortical dysplasia is usually treated with surgery. Since FCDs can look normal in MRI scans, identifying the lesions has been a big challenge for clinicians.
To develop the algorithm, the researchers used more than 1,000 patient MRI scans collected from 22 global epilepsy centres. They reported the findings of their Multicentre Epilepsy Lesion Detection (MELD) project in Brain.
According to the authors, the algorithm was able to detect the focal cortical dysplasia in 67 per cent of cases studied (538 participants).
The MELD algorithm was able to find the abnormality in 63 per cent of these cases (178 participants) who were earlier considered MRI negative.
The researchers are hopeful that the algorithm could help doctors find the hidden lesions that are currently being missed by radiologists and consider more patients for brain surgery, which can provide a cure for epilepsy.
FCD is the most common cause of epilepsy in children and the third most common cause in adults.
The new tool can be used if the patient is over the age of 3 years and is suspected of having an FCD and has an MRI scan.
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