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Surgery "better than drugs" for temporal lobe epilepsy

7 August, 2001

One of the first comparative trials between surgery and medication for temporal lobe epilepsy has shown that surgery more successful in reducing seizures, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A group of 80 patients with temporal lobe epilepsy were randomly split into two groups. 40 of the patients were given surgery and 40 were to be treated with anti-epileptic drugs for one year.

One year later, 58 per cent of the group that had undergone surgery were said to be seizure-free while only 8 per cent of the group taking medication had stopped having seizures. The patients in the surgical group on the whole had fewer seizures - leading to a better quality of life.

The report's authors, led by Dr Samuel Wiebe of the London Health Sciences Centre in Ontario, Canada, explained that randomised trials of surgery for epilepsy have not been conducted, because of the difficulties involved in designing and implementing feasible studies. However, following this study, the group are concluding that in temporal-lobe epilepsy, surgery is superior to prolonged medical therapy.