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John Duncan presents

ILAE British Chapter Epilepsy Neuroimaging course 22 – 24 March 2018

Last month a delegation of over 60 healthcare professionals, faculty members, affiliates, and students, came together for the second International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) British Chapter Epilepsy Neuroimaging Course. 

The 3-day course provided both an overview and a solid foundation in state-of-the-art MRI and PET scanning in epilepsy from the leading researchers in the field. Held at two key locations, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Epilepsy Society’s Chalfont Centre, the training event supported the ILAE’s goal of advancing and disseminating knowledge, research and training on epilepsy care to improve services and care for patients. 

Medical imaging is integral to the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of modern epilepsy care and has greatly increased our understanding of this complex neurological condition; as Professor John Duncan commented during the opening lecture, “the importance of MRI in long-term epilepsy outcomes” should be recognised. 

A variety of imaging modalities, such as MRI, PET, and EEG, to aid clinical practice and each can yield different information, for instance from structural and functional MRI. The amount of information can be increased further still by using these methods at the same time, through for instance PET-MRI and EEG-fMRI, aiming for more specific biomarkers of the disease. As a result, the choice available to epileptologists is vast and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. A fundamental understanding of the latest imaging modalities and analytical techniques is essential to ensure clinicians are best placed to choose the correct types of scans, counteract for patient-specific anomalies and better interpret the analytical outcomes. 

Chalfont Module

The aim of the course was to provide both an overview and solid foundation in state-of- the-art MRI and PET scanning in epilepsy. It was delivered through a combination of topical and theoretical lectures, providing an introduction in physical principles and clinical applications of PET-MR, and hands-on practical modules, which covered real-time examples of software analysis tools and in-depth case studies on techniques such as qualitative visual analysis and hippocampal volumetry. A special guest lecture gave an exciting insight into the use of a 7 tesla MRI - 140,000 times stronger than the magnetic field of planet Earth itself - to get extremely high-resolution readings of brain anatomy and what this might mean for long-term clinical practice, through to in depth analysis of both clinical and technical sectors from leading research experts.

The benefits of the course were illustrated through the feedback survey. Of those who responded, 95% could select the appropriate MR sequences when ordering an MRI as a result of the training, 91% felt they could identify technical artefacts on structural and functional data, and 78% could interpret and localise focal abnormalities, meeting the main learning objectives in over two-thirds of the participants. The interaction with the tutors enabled by the small group tutorial and the broad range of topics on offer were some of the benefits participants mentioned.  

ILAE delegate break

“Unlike any course I’ve been on before I managed to have fun AND learn some incredible useful and exciting things” participant feedback, physicist, Ireland. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the work of the ILAE or finding your local chapter please visit https://www.ilae.org

The training course was made possible through the support ofthe ILAE British Chapter, the Epilepsy Society and academic teams from various backgrounds, institutions, and countries including the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, the Institute of Neurology, the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, the Wellcome EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences, Great Ormond Street Hospital, King’s College London, St Thomas’ Hospital, Cardiff University, University of Oxford, Bethel Epilepsy Centre, Krankenhaus Mara and University Hospital of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.