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Epilepsy: Surgical Options for Epilepsy

What Is Epilepsy Surgery?

Most people with epilepsy can control their seizures with medication. But they aren't effective for about 30% of patients. In some cases, brain surgery may be an option.

Epilepsy surgery is an operation on the brain to control seizures and improve the person's quality of life. There are two main types of epilepsy surgery:

  • Surgery to remove the area of the brain producing seizures.
  • Surgery to interrupt the nerve pathways through which seizure impulses spread within the brain.

Surgery is considered only if the area of the brain where the seizures start, called the seizure focus, can be clearly identified, and if the area to be removed is not responsible for any critical functions, such as language, sensation and movement. Extensive evaluation and testing are necessary to determine if surgery is appropriate.

Who Is a Candidate for Epilepsy Surgery?

Surgery may be an option for people with epilepsy whose seizures are disabling and/or are not controlled by medication, or when the side effects of medication are severe and greatly affect the person's quality of life. Patients with other serious medical problems, such as cancer or heart disease, usually are not considered for epilepsy surgery.

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