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Epilepsy study shows memory loss after brain surgery

13 October, 2004

People with
epilepsy who have brain surgery may have a significant decline in
verbal memory, associated with learning, recall and recognition,
according to research published in the journal Epilepsia.

Three months after surgery, patients with surgery performed on either
the left or right brain tissue showed signs of verbal memory loss.
Initially, the resulting loss of memory was thought to be a possible
effect of the trauma of surgery. However, 12 months later 30-50 per
cent of those patients who experienced surgery to the left temporal
lobe showed no recovery of verbal memory, while patients who had
surgery on the right side of their brain regained their memory. The
results indicate, according to the author, that the decline observed in
a small portion of patients who had surgery on the right side of their
brains was temporary and most likely the effects of complications in
surgery. Verbal memory loss mainly affects those patients whose surgery
was performed on the left side of the brain.

Selective Amygdalo Hippocampectomy (SAH), or mesial temporal lobectomy,
was the type of surgery performed on the 115 patients studied.

Study author Dr Ulrike Gleissner from the University of Bonn writes:

"It
was not clear from existing studies to what extent an SAH can lead to
significant declines in memory functions, which memory functions are at
risk of becoming impaired, and which determinants of outcome can be
discerned.'