Epilepsy and Functional Hemispherectomy
What Happens After a Functional Hemispherectomy?
The patient generally stays in an intensive care unit for 24 to 48 hours and then stays in a regular hospital room for three to four days. Most people who have a functional hemispherectomy will be able to return to their normal activities, including work or school in six to eight weeks after surgery. Most patients will need to continue taking anti-seizure medication, although some may eventually be able to stop taking medication or have their dosages reduced.
How Effective Is Functional Hemispherectomy?
About 85% of people who have a functional hemispherectomy will experience significant improvement in their seizures, and about 60% will become seizure-free. In many cases, especially in children, the remaining side of the brain takes over the tasks that were controlled by the section that was removed. This often improves a child's functioning and quality of life, as well as reduces or eliminates the seizures.
What Are the Side Effects of a Functional Hemispherectomy?
The following symptoms may occur after a functional hemispherectomy, although they generally go away over time and with therapy:
- Scalp numbness.
- Muscle weakness on the affected side of the body.
- Puffy eyes.
- Feeling tired or depressed.
- Difficulty speaking, remembering, or finding words.
What Risks Are Associated With a Functional Hemispherectomy?
The risks associated with a functional hemispherectomy include:
- Risks associated with surgery, including infection, bleeding, and an allergic reaction to anesthesia.
- Loss of movement or sensation on the opposite side of the body.
- Swelling in the brain.
- Delayed development.
- Loss of peripheral (side) vision.
- Failure to control seizures.