When a brain abnormality can be documented to be the site of origin of intractable epilepsy, surgical removal of this area is a highly effective treatment. The procedure can decrease the frequency of seizures, or even stop the seizures entirely. Continuing anticonvulsant medications after surgery is usual but not necessarily in every case.
In a recent study, 15 epilepsy centers in France followed 207 patients over five years.1 The surgical group consisted of 119 patients; 88 were in the medical group treated only with anticonvulsant medications. Effectiveness was defined as 1 year without a seizure.
Sixty-nine percent of patients in the surgical group but only 12.3 percent of the medically treated group were completely seizure-free during the second year of follow-up. After five years 76.8 percent of the post-surgery group and 21 percent of the medically treated group were seizure-free.
If seizures are disrupting your life, especially complex partial seizures, I encourage you to ask your physician if surgical treatment is appropriate. It can possibly be curative. Surgical treatment should be considered early in the course of your epilepsy after it is clear that your medications fail to produce satisfactory control.
- M-C Picot, A Jaussent, D Neveu, et.al. Cost-effectiveness analysis of epilepsy surgery in a controlled cohort of adult patients with intractable partial epilepsy: A 5-year follow-up study. Epilepsia Oct. 2016; 57: 1669-1679.