Epilepsy surgery keeps half of patients seizure-free

October 16, 2011 - 17:26
altAbout half of adult patients treated with epilepsy surgery remain seizure-free a decade later, according to a large follow-up study of the procedure.
Researchers followed 615 epilepsy patients for an average of eight years after seizure-control surgery. They found that 52 percent were not having seizures [except for simple partial seizures — that is, seizures not associated with loss of consciousness] after five years and 47 percent remained seizure-free after 10 years.

Additionally, none of the patients experienced a worsening of seizures following surgery. Many patients remained on anti-seizure drugs, although 28 percent of patients who were seizure free at the last follow-up were off all medications. And "the longer a person stayed seizure free, the less likely they were to relapse," researcher John S. Duncan, MD, and colleagues write.

"These days if a patient has failed two or three medications we might consider surgery because it has become much safer and more effective over the last few decades," Ashesh Mehta, MD, director of epilepsy surgery at the North Shore-LIJ Health System Comprehensive Epilepsy Care Institute in New Hyde Park, N.Y., told WebMD.

Of the 2 million Americans with epilepsy, about two-thirds of adults achieve good seizure control with drug treatments, Mehta continued. "The rest have seizures that do not respond to drugs, and these are the patients who could benefit the most from surgical treatment," he said.

Once considered a last resort for patients with few treatment options, the researchers conclude that patients whose seizures are not controlled with drugs may benefit from surgery earlier in the course of their disease.

"Surgery is successful for many individuals in whom anti-epileptic drugs have not been effective, but further improvements need to be made to pre-surgical assessment to further increase rates of success," the researchers write.

(Source: ThirdAge.com)