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Epilepsy Health Center

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Epilepsy - Surgery

Surgery choices

The type of epilepsy surgery depends on the location in the brain in which seizures start.

The most common surgery is anterior temporal lobectomy, which is the removal of part of one of the brain's temporal lobes. For many people with temporal lobe epilepsy, this surgery offers a very good chance of becoming seizure-free.

Some types of surgery are usually only done on children.

  • Corpus callosotomy helps some children who have Lennox-Gastaut syndrome by reducing falls that happen during seizures. These can happen often and often cause injury to the child.
  • Hemispherectomy during the first few years of life may benefit children with other uncommon, severe forms of epilepsy (such as Rasmussen syndrome or Sturge-Weber disease).

What to think about

Surgery can be very effective for some people with epilepsy. But surgery is not an option for everyone. If you or your child has a type of epilepsy that might improve with surgical treatment, you may want to think about some of these issues:

  • Surgery is not a last resort. It may be considered after unsuccessfully trying two medicines.
  • Early surgery for some forms of childhood epilepsy may end seizures and prevent or reverse developmental delays. Children make good surgical candidates. They tend to recover quickly with fewer problems afterward.
  • People who have temporal lobe epilepsy and whose seizures do not get better with medicines may be good candidates for surgery.
  • Surgery is not always a cure for epilepsy. Some people never have seizures again after surgery. But for many others, surgery only reduces seizure frequency or severity.
  • You need to be healthy to have the surgery and to benefit from it. People with severe illnesses, psychiatric disorders, or neurological problems other than epilepsy may need evaluations from more specialists to see if they are good candidates for epilepsy surgery.
  • Epilepsy surgery involves removing part of your brain. It can affect your brain function, although the effects may be less bothersome than those caused by the epilepsy itself. Problems after surgery can be mild to severe-such as less energy, visual defects, language and memory problems, and weakness or partial paralysis on one side of the body-and may be temporary or permanent.
  • Brain surgery is an expensive way to treat epilepsy and carries with it many risks. Even if medicine does not prevent your seizures, surgery may not be recommended if you only have seizures once in a while or do not have severe seizures.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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