Surgery For Epilepsy Gains Urgency In Trial

Fri, 03/16/2012 - 5:58am

Surgery for epilepsy is usually seen as a last resort for patients when medications do not work, and it is often delayed for many years after the failure of drug treatment. Now a randomized, controlled trial suggests that surgery as soon as possible after the failure of two antiepileptic drugs is a significantly better approach than continued medical care.

Previous studies have shown that patients referred for surgery have had epilepsy for an average of 22 years, and are referred on average more than 10 years after the use of two drugs has failed to stop the seizures.

People with continued seizures are at increased risk for drowning and other accidents, depression, progressive loss of memory, and, in younger people, a failure to develop vocational and social skills. Their risk of death is 10 times as high as that of the general population.

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