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Epilepsy Surgery May Be Best Bet When Medications Fail

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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 harmful consequences.

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.

Vital Information:

  • Most people with the seizure disorder called epilepsy are treated with medication. Today, doctors say surgery is an option for about one or two epilepsy patients in 10.
  • Doctors say the best candidates for surgery are those who seem to be having seizures because of problems in a specific part of the brain and who have tried drug therapy unsuccessfully.
  • If the part of the brain believed to be causing seizures also controls important body function, surgery brings the risk of damaging those functions. But some people who have suffered many monthly seizures for years, despite taking medicine, report surgery was the right treatment choice for them.
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