White Matter Hyperintensities on Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging in People with Epilepsy: A Hospital-Based Study

Yi Ting Mao, Enid Goh, Leonid Churilov, Anne McIntosh, Yi Fan Ren, Terence J. O'Brien, Stephen Davis, Qiang Dong, Bernard Yan, Patrick Kwan

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Aims: We aim to explore whether people with epilepsy have increased white matter hyperintensities (WMHs). Methods: Eligible patients were categorized into newly diagnosed epilepsy (NE) and chronic epilepsy (CE); the latter were subdivided to those treated with enzyme-inducing antiepileptic drugs (EIAEDs) with or without non-enzyme-inducing antiepileptic drugs (NEIAEDs) and those with NEIAEDs only. WMHs were measured using age-related white matter changes (ARWMC) scale and compared between patients and healthy control group. Higher scores indicate greater WMH changes. The strengths of associations were estimated as incidence rate ratios (IRRs) with 95% confidence interval (CI). Results: A total of 217 patients were included in the analysis, of whom 67 had NE, 45 had CE treated with NEIAEDs, and 105 had CE treated with EIAEDs. Age was positively associated with ARWMC score (IRR per year, 1.03; 95%CI, 1.03–1.04, P < 0.001). Compared with the healthy control group (n = 23), all patient groups had higher ARWMC score (P < 0.05). The difference was greatest in patients receiving EIAEDs (IRR, 2.13; 95%CI, 1.22–3.70, P = 0.007). Conclusions: WMHs tended to be observed in people with epilepsy, especially in those treated with EIAEDs. People with epilepsy with white matter changes should be evaluated for stroke risk, particularly if they are receiving EIAEDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-763
Number of pages6
JournalCNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Epilepsy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Stroke
  • White matter hyperintensities

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