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Types of epilepsy brain surgery for children

These pages are about surgery in the UK. If you are looking for information about surgery in another country, please contact your local epilepsy organisation.

There are many different types of epilepsy brain surgery. The type your child has depends on their type of seizures, and where the seizures begin in their brain. Here are some of the more common types of epilepsy surgery.

Focal resection

This is done when surgeons know which part of the brain the seizures start in. Children having this type of surgery have a small part of their brain removed. Although this sounds worrying, the surgeon will only take away damaged parts that aren’t needed.

If the part of the brain causing the seizures is in the temporal lobe, the surgery is called a ‘temporal’ resection. If the part of the brain causing the seizures is in one of the other lobes, it is called an ‘extra-temporal’ resection.

Corpus callosotomy

During this surgery the 2 hemispheres (halves) of the brain are separated. It is mainly used for generalised seizures, particularly frequent drop attacks (tonic and atonic seizures), and myoclonic seizures that affect the whole body. It is also used for severe focal seizures that start in one hemisphere and spread to the other.

Hemispherectomy / hemispherotomy

This is major surgery to remove or separate (disconnect) one half of the outer layer of the brain from the other. It is for children who have seizures because one half of their brain is badly damaged or not working properly. Removing one hemisphere is called ‘hemispherectomy’. Sometimes the hemisphere is not removed, but completely disconnected from the rest of the brain. This is called hemispherotomy.

If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact our Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone on 0808 800 5050.


Epilepsy Action wishes to thank Prof. Richard Appleton, honorary professor in paediatric neurology and Dr Tim Martland, consultant paediatric neurologist at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and Lead Clinician for NorCESS for their contributions.

Prof. Appleton and Dr Martland have declared no conflict of interest.

This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.

  • Updated May 2016
    To be reviewed May 2019

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