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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Seizures after surgery affect quality of life more than memory problems

2 August, 2007

New research published in Neurology, the scientific journal of the
American Academy of Neurology, shows that quality of life improves for
people after surgery if their seizures are controlled, even if they
develop memory problems.

Epilepsy surgery can eliminate
seizures for 60 to 85 percent of people with temporal lobe epilepsy who
do not respond well to medication. But it can also lead to memory
problems in 25 to 40 percent of people. The research could help doctors
and patients weigh the risks and benefits of surgery.

"This
is important information that can help people decide whether or not to
undergo surgery," said study author John T. Langfitt, PhD, of the
University of Rochester, USA. "It suggests that the benefits of
controlling seizures outweigh the downsides of memory problems. It may
be that people can learn to compensate for memory problems more easily
and effectively, such as by making lists and using an electronic
organiser, than they can compensate for the restrictions that seizures
can cause, such as not being able to drive."

Langfitt also
points out that seizures could be less socially acceptable than memory
problems, which he says patients can sometimes pass off as everyday
forgetfulness.

In the study, 138 people who had had
surgery for temporal lobe epilepsy were followed for five years after
surgery. The quality of life scores remained stable for those who still
had seizures but did not have any memory problems. Quality of life
scores declined only for those who had both seizures and memory
problems, which was eight per cent of the participants.

Langfitt
added that because certain risk factors make people more likely to have
memory problems after surgery and other risk factors make people more
likely to continue to have seizures after surgery, doctors can use
these results to help determine who is a good candidate for surgery and
also to closely monitor those who are at risk.