Type of Surgery
Last updated: 02/17/2009
Corpus callosotomy is most often performed for children with "drop attacks," or atonic seizures, in which a sudden loss of muscle tone causes the child to fall to the floor. It is also performed in people with uncontrolled generalized tonic-clonic,...
or grand mal, seizures, or with massive jerking movements. Of the 20,000 to 70,000 people in the United States considered candidates for any type of epilepsy surgery, approximately 5,000 receive surgery per year. Between 1985 and 1990, more than 800 corpus callosotomies were performed, and the number has increased since then. Corpus callosotomy is performed by a special neurosurgical team, at a regional epilepsy treatment center.
Corpus callosotomy (or less frequently, callotomy) is a surgical procedure that disconnects the cerebral hemispheres, resulting in a condition called split-brain.
Most modern callosotomies involve only the anterior portion of the corpus callosum, reflecting the fact that the frontal and temporal lobes are the most commonly involved in the genesis of seizures. The deficits from this modified procedure are milder; side-effects have not been found in some patients (although it is very unlikely that none exist).
The corpus callosum is usually severed in order to stop epileptic seizures. Once the corpus callosum is cut, the brain has much more difficulty sending messages between the hemispheres. Although the corpus callosum is the largest white-matter tract connecting the hemispheres, some limited interhemispheric communication is still possible via the anterior commissure and posterior commissure. When tested in particular situations, it is obvious that information transfer between the hemispheres is reduced.
The total number of neurosurgeries performed in 2006 was estimated at 2,171,195. Of these, 1,345,167 spine-related were performed, equating to nearly 62 percent of the total.
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