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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.
  • Nausea.
  • Muscle weakness on the affected side of the body.
  • Puffy eyes.
  • Feeling tired or depressed.
  • Difficulty speaking, remembering, or finding words.
  • Headaches.

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.





WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on May 25, 2014
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