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People with auras may be good candidates for surgery

23 August, 2007

People with epilepsy who experience multiple auras -
sensations such as feeling a cold breeze or seeing a bright light -
before they have a seizure may be good candidates for epilepsy surgery
because their seizures seem to be generated in one area of the brain,
according to a study published in the journal Neurology.

For
the study, researchers examined 31 people with epilepsy who experienced
multiple types of auras, such as a bad smell, psychic experience, or
abdominal pain.

The study found 90 per cent of patients
with at least two types of aura and 100 per cent of patients with at
least three aura types had seizures arising from the non-dominant side
of their brain.

"Epilepsy surgery may be effective for
people with multiple auras since most of the seizures seem to arise
from one area of the brain rather than multiple regions," said the
study's author Dr. Prakash Kotagal, from Cleveland Clinic Epilepsy
Center in Cleveland USA.

The study also found that more
than half of the 19 study participants who went on to have epilepsy
surgery stopped having seizures.

Before now, researchers
say little has been known about the significance of having multiple
auras since most of the attention has been focused on people with
single auras.

"Multiple auras may be underestimated since
auras are often difficult and time-consuming to elicit from a patient,
particularly if their importance is not appreciated by the patient's
doctor," said study co-author Dr Peter Widdess-Walsh with Saint
Barnabas Institute of Neurology in West Orange, New Jersey. "However,
our findings show multiple auras should be recognised by doctors as a
significant finding and should be used in deciding whether to proceed
with epilepsy surgery."