Better Lives After Epilepsy Surgery

Epilepsy patients were more likely to drive and be employed after surgery

(RxWiki News) Epilepsy can be a debilitating condition, especially for patients who don't respond to medications. For some patients, surgery may offer hope for a better life without seizures.

Recently, researchers surveyed epilepsy patients who had undergone brain surgery to see how the operation affected their lives.

The majority of these patients reported that they were either free of disabling seizures or they only had them rarely. Additionally, these patients were more likely to be driving after surgery.

Perhaps most importantly, almost all of the participants said that they felt their epilepsy surgery was worthwhile.

"If you have epilepsy, talk to your doctor about treatment options."

Vibhangini Wasade, MD, of the Henry Ford Hospital, and several colleagues conducted this study on the impact of epilepsy surgery on patients' lives.

Epilepsy is characterized by recurring seizures which can often severely limit a patient's ability to work, go to school or perform everyday tasks.

Patients who do not respond well to epilepsy medications sometimes choose resective surgery, in which a part of the brain is removed.

Dr. Wasade's study investigated patients' psychological and social health after they had undergone resective surgery for epilepsy.

A total of 253 epilepsy patients who had undergone surgery between 1993 and 2011 were included in this study.

From May 2012 to January 2013, the researchers conducted phone interviews with the participants to gather information about seizure frequency and psychosocial health.

These patients had been diagnosed with epilepsy at an average age of about 15 years old and underwent surgery when they were 35 years old on average.

Of the 253 patients, 82 (32 percent) were seizure free and 189 (75 percent) reported favorable outcomes, meaning they were either free of disabling seizures or had very rare disabling seizures.

Compared to before surgery, the patients surveyed were more likely to be driving regularly, but they were less likely to be employed full-time.

Before surgery, 22 percent of the participants had used anti-depressants, but at the time of the survey, 30 percent used them.

Patients who had undergone surgery on their temporal lobe were significantly less likely to have full-time employment than those who had surgery on another part of the brain.

Additionally, the 75 percent of participants who reported favorable outcomes were more likely to be driving, employed and not taking anti-depressants.

The vast majority of participants (92 percent) considered their epilepsy surgery to be worthwhile.

The researchers concluded that resective surgery for epilepsy patients generally yielded favorable outcomes, in terms of both seizures and psychosocial health.

This research was presented at the American Epilepsy Society 67th Annual Meeting on December 8. The authors of the study did not disclose funding sources or conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 3, 2013