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Epilepsy surgery successful for alleviating seizures over the long term - study

26 April, 2006

Eighty-one per
cent of people who had surgery to treat their difficult-to-control
epilepsy become totally or nearly seizure-free within six months,
according to a new study published in Journal of Neurosurgery.

The research also showed that ten years after surgery, 72 per cent remained totally or nearly seizure-free.

The
study analysed the cases of 399 patients who underwent epilepsy surgery
to remove part of the brain responsible for the seizures at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA, between 1988 and 1996.

The
researchers explained that before surgery, the patients had a poor
quality of life, but the study showed that quality of life often
usually dramatically after surgery. The study also showed that risk
with epilepsy surgery is relatively low: four per cent of patients
studied had medical problems due to anaesthesia or other neurological
complications during surgery. However the risk varies by seizure type
and where in the brain the seizures start.

The
researchers also said they felt epilepsy surgery was cost-effective for
society as it can stop seizures among those people with epilepsy who
are unemployed or underemployed because of their condition.

It
was also felt that more people with difficult-to-control epilepsy could
benefit from surgery. The researchers said that around 30 to 40 per
cent of people with epilepsy might be suitable for epilepsy surgery.
They defined an appropriate candidate as someone who is in good health
(apart from their epilepsy) whose seizures are not controlled by
medication and where the region of their brain where the seizures start
can be identified and safely removed without damaging the surrounding
area.