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For Many, Epilepsy Surgery Effective Long-Term
Date:10/14/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Almost half of the people who undergo surgery for epilepsy remain free of seizures 10 years later, a new study finds.

Current practice is to treat patients with medication, and only when drugs can't control seizures -- often many years later -- does a patient become a candidate for surgery. This study suggests that some patients with focal epilepsy -- the most common form of the seizure disorder -- should be eligible for surgery sooner, the British researchers said.

"Neurosurgical treatment of focal epilepsy that does not respond to medication can result in remission of seizures, with 82 percent of individuals having great benefit and [many] never having another seizure," said lead researcher Dr. John Duncan, a professor of neurology at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and Imperial College London in England.

Based on these results, "Epilepsy surgery should be considered if two to three medications have failed to control seizures," he said.

Given the severity of some epilepsy-drug side effects (they are thought to increase the risk of birth defects when taken in pregnancy), certain patients might welcome a surgical alternative, the researchers said.

For the study, published in the Oct. 15 issue of The Lancet, Duncan's team looked at the long-term outcome of 615 adults who underwent epilepsy surgery at the National Hospital between 1990 and 2008. On average, the patients had suffered seizures for 20 years prior to surgery.

Five years post-surgery, 52 percent of the patients remained seizure-free, and after 10 years, 47 percent were free of seizures, the researchers found. However, over the long-term, 11 percent had what are called simple partial seizures, which do not involve loss of consciousness but appeared to affect their odds of recovery.

Surgery for epilepsy involves cutting
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