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Hemispherectomy for Epilepsy - Topic Overview

The left and right sides of the brain are called hemispheres. Hemispherectomy is the removal of one side of the brain. This procedure is sometimes done on children who have severe forms of epilepsy, such as Rasmussen syndrome and Sturge-Weber disease. These conditions badly damage one side of the brain, cause frequent seizures and problems with physical and mental development. And these conditions do not respond well to drug treatment.

Hemispherectomy may completely prevent seizures and reverse delays in development that occur with some forms of epilepsy.

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Understanding Absence Seizures -- Diagnosis and Treatment

If a seizure condition such as absence seizures is suspected, the doctor will begin by taking a thorough medical history, including information on any birth trauma, serious head injury, or infections of the brain such as encephalitis or meningitis. Brain function can be "viewed" with an electroencephalograph, or EEG, which detects the electrochemical relay of information from brain cell to brain cell. EEGs will show characteristic, abnormal patterns during different types of seizures, including...

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The surgery always causes some loss of movement and sensation on one side of the body and sometimes causes partial loss of vision in half of the visual field of each eye. But most children with a large epileptic area on one side of the brain already have these problems before the surgery.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 26, 2011
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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