What is the goal of epilepsy surgery?

Dr. Aria Fallah, MD

The goal of epilepsy surgery is to either stop or lessen seizures as much as possible to prevent the harmful consequences of seizures, including early death. If a person has a seizure, that can lead to accidents, falls, broken bones, drowning in a swimming pool. There are a lot of concerns for a child who has seizures.

There's also an entity called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, SUDEP. There is about a 1 percent chance of SUDEP per year, which may seem low, but over the course of a child's lifetime, that can be a significant risk. Also epilepsy has traditionally a lot of stigmatization for children who have seizures. This can result in bullying. It can result in being marginalized in society. Eliminating or lessening seizures would lower these risks, and help prevent the cognitive, behavioral and psychosocial problems related to epilepsy.

Epilepsy surgery would also help to avoid the side effects of medication in a growing child's brain. The side effects these medications for a developing child are unknown, so it is very important to limit the amount of medical therapy, or at least not add on more and more.

The goal of epilepsy surgery is to identify an abnormal area of brain tissue from which the seizures originate and remove it without causing any significant impairment. The brain is divided into two sides, called "hemispheres." Each side of the brain is then divided into lobes. The major lobes are the temporal lobes (sides of the brain), frontal lobes (front of the brain), parietal lobes (middle of the brain), and occipital lobes (back of the brain). An operation to remove all or part of these lobes is called a lobectomy. A lobectomy may be performed when a person has seizures that start in the same lobe every time.

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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.