Intracarotid Amytal memory test and hippocampal magnetic resonance imaging volumetry: Validity of the Wada test as an indicator of hippocampal integrity among candidates for epilepsy surgery

Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, Michael Westerveld, Juan Alvarez-Carilles, Dennis D. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations


Object. Intracarotid Amytal testing (the Wada test) has been used to lateralize language and identify patients who may be at risk for memory impairment after temporal lobectomy. The goal of this study was to determine the validity of the Wada test in the assessment of pathological conditions of the hippocampus among candidates for epilepsy surgery. The authors examined the correlation between the functional integrity of the hippocampus, measured using the Wada test, and quantitative measures of hippocampal pathology, determined by obtaining volumetric measurements of the hippocampus with the aid of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Methods. The authors reviewed the relationship between memory scores on the Wada test and hippocampal volumes measured on preoperative MR images in 76 patients who underwent anteromedial temporal lobectomy and amygdalohippocampectomy for the treatment of medically refractory temporal lobe epilepsy. The data were analyzed with respect to their usefulness in lateralizing the seizure focus and predicting the long-term postoperative memory outcome. Right and left hippocampal volume measurements did not correlate with one another (p > 0.1). Similarly, following a left carotid artery injection of Amytal the patients' right hemisphere memory was not significantly related to their left hemisphere memory on the Wada test (p > 0.1). On the other hand, the patients' right hemisphere memory significantly correlated with their right hippocampal volume (r = 0.51; p < 0.001) and their left hemisphere memory significantly correlated with their left hippocampal volume (r = 0.51; p < 0.001). Both right and left hemisphere memory scores correlated with the hippocampal volumetry ratio (r = 0.47 and r = 0.45, respectively; both p < 0.001). Lateralization of a seizure focus based on hippocampal volumetry results was significantly related to lateralization based on the results of the Wada test (r = 0.49; p < 0.01). The disparity between the Wada memory scores on ipsilateral and contralateral sides was significantly and inversely related to the change in verbal memory following temporal lobectomy (r = 20.28; p < 0.02). The preoperative hippocampal volumetry ratio also significantly and inversely correlated with the change in verbal memory after surgery (r = 20.31; p < 0.01). Conclusions. The Wada memory test may be a valuable method of measuring the functional integrity of the hippocampus. The systematic study of MR imaging-acquired morphological data and Wada-acquired neuropsychological data may increase our understanding of the location of material-specific memory and the selection of eligible candidates for epilepsy surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)926-931
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004



  • Epilepsy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Memory
  • Neuropsychology
  • Surgery
  • Wada test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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