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Surgery a Boon for Most Common Form of Epilepsy
Date:12/2/2008

But too few patients are having the procedure, study says

TUESDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- People with the most common form of epilepsy who don't respond to drugs would gain about five years of life, and dramatically improved quality of life at that, if they had a certain form of brain surgery.

That's the finding of a new study that relied on computer modeling to assess the benefits of surgery of the temporal lobe region for people with temporal lobe epilepsy.

"In light of what we found, some patients with this type of epilepsy, whose seizures are not controlled with medication, should consider getting further evaluation to see if they would be eligible for a procedure at a specialized epilepsy center," said study author Dr. Hyunmi Choi, an assistant professor of clinical neurology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

And doctors perhaps should not wait to exhaust all medication options before considering surgery, Choi added.

"There are some physicians who just continue trying different medications, not realizing that there is a small surgical complication rate. But the chances of becoming seizure-free with this procedure is so much higher," Choi noted.

One expert agreed that the surgery should considered more often.

"The increased survival of five years is really a significant benefit. That's really a dramatic number," said Dr. Michel Berg, a neurologist and medical director of the Strong Epilepsy Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in Rochester, N.Y.

"People have been aware of the benefit of temporal lobe epilepsy surgery and the substantially greater portion of people that end up seizure-free, which substantially improves quality of life. Then, in addition to that, [there] is a survival benefit, which is just an additional piece of information that further emphasizes that we should be offering this treatment option to people with me
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