Type of Surgery
Last updated: 02/17/2009
ATL is the most common surgery performed to treat medically refractory epilepsy and, in most cases, will diminish or abolish seizures.
In 1997, Sperling et al. reported in the Epilepsy Quarterly the five-year outcomes of 89 patients with...
uncontrolled seizures who underwent ATL at the Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The patients in this study underwent ATL as a result of no response (or allergy) to at least three medications. Five years postoperatively, 80 of 89 patients (90%) no longer had seizures or experienced more than 80% seizure reduction. Only five patients (6%) exhibited no worthwhile improvement, although a modest reduction in seizure frequency may have been noted. Among the seizure-free patients, 49 were cured of their epilepsy (i.e., they had no seizures after temporal lobectomy).
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 an 11 percent increase in the number of neurosurgeons with full-time academic appointments and a 6 percent increase in the number of female neurosurgeons.
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