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Selective Posterior Cerebral Artery Injection of Amytal: New Method of Preoperative Memory Testing

      The carotid Amytal test (Wada test) was introduced, in 1948 by Wada, to localize speech function before temporal lobectomy in patients with medically refractory epilepsy, and it remains the standard for that purpose. The same test has also been used since 1962 to evaluate memory function; however, the adequacy of the test in this application has been viewed with increasing skepticism in recent years. Therefore, we developed an alternative to the Wada test. It consists of selective injection of Amytal into the posterior cerebral artery (PCA). This PCA Amytal test is designed to test only memory function (not language). We present several anatomic and functional reasons why this approach should be superior to the Wada test for this purpose. We also present preliminary data in support of this hypothesis. To date, we have had successful results of the PCA Amytal test in 38 of 45 patients (84%), and one major complication has occurred (2%).
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