What are surgical treatments for epilepsy?

Neurosurgeons use one of several surgical procedures to treat epilepsy. Most people experience a great reduction in seizure frequency and severity after surgery. Patients with certain types of epilepsy have a greater than 70 percent chance of complete freedom from seizures following surgery.

  • Multiple subpial transaction for epilepsy: If the source of the epileptic seizures is in an area of the brain that is critical to speech or movement, surgeons may use an approach called multiple subpial transection. Instead of removing brain tissue, surgeons interrupt nerve fibers on the surface of the brain that carry the impulses responsible for epileptic symptoms.
  • Resective surgery for epilepsy: This type of brain surgery removes the specific area of the brain that is generating the seizures. A resective procedure called temporal lobectomy, in which surgeons remove a portion of the temporal lobe (the most common source of epileptic seizures), is the brain surgery most often performed for epilepsy.
  • Vagal nerve stimulation for epilepsy: Vagal nerve stimulation is a treatment in which doctors place a small pacemaker under the skin near the vagal nerve in the side of the neck. Placement of the device does not involve surgery on the brain. This device regulates electrical activity in the brain, and in many patients with poorly controlled epileptic seizures, it can reduce their frequency and severity.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.