Type of Surgery
Last updated: 02/17/2009
ATL surgical procedures:
- Anesthesia. The patient is anesthetized with a combination of drugs that achieves a state of unconsciousness.
- Preparation of the surgical field. An antiseptic solution is applied to the patient's scalp, face,...
and neck. Surgical drapes are placed around the surgical region to maintain a sterile surgical field.
- Temporal incision. Using a scalpel blade, the neurosurgeon makes an incision in the skin and muscle of the temporal region of the head located on the side of the head above the ear, and pulls away the flap of scalp.
- Control of bleeding. Blood obstructing the surgeon's view of the surgical field is irrigated and suctioned away as surgery proceeds.
- Craniotomy. Using a high-speed drill, the neurosurgeon removes a section of bone (bone flap) from the skull and makes an incision through the protective membranes of the brain (dura) in order to expose the temporal lobe.
- Removal of the anterior lobe. Using an operating microscope to enlarge the features of the surgical area, the neurosurgeon removes the temporal anterior lobe.
- Closure. Once bleeding is under control, every layer of tissue cut or divided to reach the surgical site is closed. The cavity is irrigated completely and the dura is closed in a watertight manner using tack-up sutures. The bone flap is returned into place. Muscle and tissues are closed with sutures, while the skin is closed with staples. No drain is needed.
Anterior temporal lobectomy is the complete removal of the anterior portion of the temporal lobe of the brain. It is a treatment option in temporal lobe epilepsy for those in whom anticonvulsant medications do not control epileptic seizures.
The techniques for removing temporal lobe tissue vary from resection of large amounts of tissue, including lateral temporal cortex along with medial structures, to more restricted anterior temporal lobectomy (ATL) to more restricted removal of only the medial structures (selective amygdalohippocampectomy, SAH).
Nearly all reports of seizure outcome following these procedures indicate that the best outcome group includes patients with MRI evidence of mesial temporal sclerosis (hippocampal atrophy with increased T-2 signal.) The range of seizure-free outcomes for these patients is reported to be between 80 and 90%, which is typically reported as a sub-set of data within a larger surgical series.
Open surgical procedures such as ATL have inherent risks including damage to the brain (either directly or indirectly by injury to important blood vessels), bleeding (which can require re-operation), blood loss (which can require transfusion), and infection. Furthermore, open procedures require several days of care in the hospital including at least one night in an intensive care unit. Such treatment is quite costly; a factor that may influence some health care systems to avoid referral to qualified centers.
However, a prospective, randomized trial of ATL compared to best medical therapy (anticonvulsants) demonstrated that the seizure-free rate after surgery was ~ 60% as compared to only 8% for the medicine only group. Therefore, ATL is considered the standard of care for patients with medically-intractable mesial temporal lobe epilepsy.
Select comparative data from 1999 to 2006 include a decrease of 14 percent in the number of neurosurgeons in private practice and a decrease of 13 percent in the number of neurosurgeons in solo practice.
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