Epilepsy Surgery in Childhood

Authors

  • J. Helen Cross

    1. Neuroscience Unit, the Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, and National Centre for Young People for Epilepsy, Lingfield, England
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. J. H. Cross at Department of Paediatric Neurology, the Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, and National Centre for Young People for Epilepsy, Lingfield, WC1N 3JH, U.K.

Abstract

Summary: Epilepsy surgery in childhood can now be more readily considered as a result of enhanced presurgical investigative techniques and safer neurosurgical practice. As in adults, surgery available may be resective (focal resection or hemispherectomy) or functional. The most common procedures are temporal lobectomy and hemispherectomy, with malformative lesions and developmental tumours the next common pathology. The timing of surgery requires careful consideration, and the definition of drug resistance given specific thought in the young child. Presurgical evaluation should be noninvasive where possible, and should include optimised MRI, including 3D data set and video EEG telemetry to document seizures. Detection of temporal lobe abnormalities in temporal lobe epilepsy with MR may be enhanced using quantitative and semiquantitative techniques. Ictal and interictal SPECT may be useful in providing information about the seizure onset zone, if reviewed in conjunction with MR data and video-EEG. Interictal PET is more likely to demonstrate abnormalities relating to structural defects, but may be particularly useful in infants where incomplete myelination may restrict structural information provided by MRI. Neuropsychology testing plays a major role by the determination of verbal and nonverbal function in older children, and in the determination of cerebral dominance. Functional MRI for determination of language or motor cortex may enhance such evaluation, although it is limited to older unsedated children at present. Although the aims of the presurgical evaluation remain similar to adult practice, the range of children presenting is wide, and the aims and likely outcome of surgery require careful evaluation with the family. This aside, the benefits of seizure elimination or reduction in drug-resistant focal epilepsy prior to adolescence, as well as in certain early catastrophic epilepsies of childhood, remain self apparent.

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