According to Dr, Robert R. Goodman from the Epilepsy Center, there is a surgical cure for certain types of epilepsy that many patients and their neurologists don’t know about. This is particularly true, he says, in cases of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy .
Epilepsy is a general term for a group of disorders that involve regular seizures or electrical disturbances in the brain. Epilepsy is highly variable from person to person, depending on the seizure type and location of their seizure onsets in the brain.
Many patients have seizures that are technically called complex partial seizures. These often seem to be “mild”, typically with patients stopping what they are doing and staring (often with minor physical movements). They typically last less than a minute and may occur no more than a few times a month. However, having this type of seizure significantly affects a person’s ability to function independently and severely impairs quality of life. In some cases they can even prove fatal.
A thorough neurological examination and highly sophisticated imaging technology is used to find the exact type and source of the seizure. Once diagnosed, medication is typically the first line of treatment.
According to Goodman however, “Over 40% of patients with complex partial or temporal lobe type seizures do not have their seizures completely controlled by medication. Many of these patients can be cured surgically.”
“Many of these patients,” he explains, “have seizures that have their focus (place where they originate) in a benign area of the temporal lobe. Often, the diseased section isn’t critical to function and can be removed without significant impairment to the person.”
Surgical treatment for temporal lobe epilepsy has an exceptionally high cure rate, too. One research study showed that 60% of patients at their one year check-up were completely free of seizures, compared with 8% of patients treated with medication only. Some research also indicates that the cure rate may be even higher when the patients are more rigorously selected.
Dr. Goodman wants these kinds of epilepsy patients to know that this could be a possibility for them. “Surgery can change their lives,” he says, “make their lives normal, in fact, and unless their neurologist works with a major surgery center, they may not know this is available either.”
Dr. Goodman says that to find out if surgery is an option, patients need to see a neurologist who, not only specializes in Epilepsy, but also has experience working with neurosurgeons who regularly perform this kind of surgery, typically at a large medical center where the diagnostic and surgical technology is available.
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