Types of Surgery for Epilepsy

 

Epilepsy pic
Epilepsy
Image: Epilepsy.org

Dr. Ilyas Munshi serves as a privately practicing neurosurgeon in Lafayette, Louisiana. Experienced in treating a comprehensive range of conditions of the brain and spinal cord, Dr. Ilyas Munshi maintains a particular focus on surgical treatment of epilepsy.

When a patient’s epilepsy indicates that surgery might be the most appropriate option, the surgeon takes into consideration the type of epilepsy when determining the procedure type. The majority of patients who undergo epilepsy surgery receive what surgeons call a resection, in which the surgeon removes the area of the brain responsible for the patient’s seizures. This is the form of epilepsy surgery with the highest success rate for reducing or stopping seizure activity.

Patients who do not undergo a resective surgery may instead be candidates for a disconnective procedure. Unlike a resection, which is potentially curative, these surgeries primarily aim to stop the spread of seizures and thus limit their severity.

The disconnective surgery may be helpful if a patient’s seizure activity takes place in multiple parts of the brain or in a part of the brain on which surgery is too risky. A corpus callosotomy, for example, enables the surgeon to cut off the nerve connections between the two halves of the brain, thus preventing inter-hemispheric seizure spread. Rarely, a surgeon will instead choose to perform a multiple subpial transection, which can provide some relief for frequent and severe seizures by making incisions into multiple relevant parts of the brain.

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It is estimated that as many as 3 million people in America and as many as 50 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with epilepsy. The condition causes a wide range of symptoms from simple blank staring to violent convulsions. When physicians are unable to manage these symptoms with medication, surgery may be a patient’s best option for treatment. However, the treatment of severe epilepsy is not as straightforward as that may sound. Surgery is a highly invasive, risky, costly affair, and because epilepsy affects different areas of the brain, determining exactly where the problem is located in the brain is a top priority in achieving a successful surgical outcome.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota have devised a non-invasive method that is used to study the brains of individuals with epilepsy immediately following seizures. While this is not an immediate solution to the problem of locating affected areas of the brain, it does represent a positive step forward in the quest to develop techniques that can accurately determine trouble areas in the brain in preparation for surgery.

About the Author: Dr. Ilyas Munshi is a board-certified neurosurgeon who has been practicing in Lafayette, Louisiana, for the past nine years. Epilepsy and seizure-related surgery are two of Dr. Munshi’s specialties.