Stigma and Treatment in Epilepsy- When Surgery is Actually the Best Option

By: Stephanie Tuminello 

              Patients and doctors alike oftentimes consider surgery the last resort in epilepsy treatment. This is because of how radical a method of treatment this is considered compared to medication. But the fact of the matter is that all cases of epilepsy are different and that sometimes medication alone is not effective, and, moreover, that sometimes even if medication is working to suppress seizures surgery may work better or even be curative. In actuality surgery should, in some cases, be considered the first option, not the last.

            The method of treatment a doctors and his/her patient chooses is ultimately based upon the patient’s specific illness. If seizures occur in one specific area of the brain that can be easily removed this patient is a prime candidate for surgery. Also, if epilepsy is being caused by growth, tumor, lesion, or cyst in the brain that is not responsive to medication surgery to remove it might be the best option. As with any surgery age, general health, and severity of illness are important factors to take into consideration. 

            There are different types of surgery for epileptics. Focal resection is the act of removing the part of the brain where the seizures originate. This type of surgery is only effective when seizures originate in only one part of the brain, usually the temporal lobe.  A hemispherectomy is more invasive and requires removing almost the entire side of the brain. This form of surgery is used less often but for those patinets to need it in order to eliminate the area of the brain causing seizures. Lastly, a corpus callostomy is when brain surgery is performed to stop the pathways in which seizures spread, confining the seizure to a smaller part of the brain. Each form of epilepsy surgery, like any surgery, have their own risks associated with it, but for many people surgery is the way in which they can eliminate or control their illness in order to live their lives seizure free.




John Hopkins Univeristy (n.d.). Surgery for Seizures & Epilepsy. Retrieved 3/8/14


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