Epilepsy Surgery May Be Best Bet When Medications Fail
WebMD News Archive
"In selected patients surgery can be a very important option," says
Solomon L. Moshe, MD. "The important thing is to identify the best
candidates for surgery, because each patient is different." Moshe is
professor of neurology, neuroscience and pediatrics, director of pediatric
neurology, and director of clinical neurophysiology at the Albert Einstein
College of Medicine in New York City.
Researchers reviewed information from medical studies conducted to date and
found that surgery for epilepsy caused by minor abnormalities in a certain
region of the brain is successful about 41% of the time. In other words, these
patients were seizure-free two years after surgery. The success rates of
surgery for other, better-studied forms of epilepsy are even higher.
These abnormalities are typically a rare congenital condition, so the
surgery is sometimes done on very young children. "If you decide to do
surgery early on, there is a greater chance the remaining part of the brain
will be able to compensate," Moshe says. "This article tells us after
surgery, 41% of patients stopped having seizures for two years -- that's a
pretty good result. We need to improve our selection of patients, so we can
have even better outcomes in the future."
When physicians are considering surgery for epilepsy, they order several
sophisticated tests, which help them to decide if the patient would be a good
candidate for the surgery. These tests help the physician identify the parts of
the brain that are abnormal and therefore responsible for the seizures.
The best candidates for surgery are those with a specific brain area where
seizures originate. If that part of the brain can be removed, the seizures will
cease. However, sometimes there is no specific area or the specific area is in
an essential part of the brain, so that surgery could run the risk of serious
After facing uncontrolled seizures and then having surgery for her epilepsy,
Price today still emphasizes the importance of therapeutic humor and developing
a good attitude to cope with all the challenges of life, including epilepsy.
"I always had the ability, instead of letting epilepsy hold me down, to
just put it aside and find ways to laugh at it," she says.
For more information from WebMD, see our Diseases and Conditions Epilepsy page.