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Keywords:

  • Epilepsy;
  • Surgery;
  • Selective resection;
  • Image guidance;
  • Stereotaxic

Summary:  Purpose: To review systematically the available evidence with regard to the current status of epilepsy surgery in the management of patients with epilepsy.

Methods: A careful search of published literature, including Medline, published reviews, chapters, and cross-references thereof.

Results: With medical treatment of epilepsy being unsuccessful in many cases, the importance of surgical approaches cannot be underscored. Early surgery is the treatment of choice for patients with clear-cut mesial temporal sclerosis and results in significant clinical improvement in up to 80% of cases, provided the EEG, neuropsychological, and neuropsychiatric results are in concordance with this approach. In patients with poorly defined, widespread, or dual pathology, however, invasive recordings may be necessary, and while this is performed in major centres, the outcome is rather more variable in this group. Improved surgical techniques, and the use of stereotactic approaches and image guidance procedures, have resulted in surgical resections becoming more selective. With isolated structural lesions such as dysembryoplastic tumours, low-grade astrocytomas, or focal vascular abnormalities, total macroscopic and radiological evidence of lesional excision is associated with excellent seizure-free outcome. The first randomised controlled trial of epilepsy surgery has demonstrated clearly the efficacy of these techniques, and the risk of complications.

Discussion: Increasing sophistication of noninvasive presurgical evaluation enables surgical candidates to be identified at an earlier stage and presents a realistic alternative to medical treatment in many cases. The introduction of minimally invasive techniques has had a significant impact on surgical practice and its associated morbidity. The future of epilepsy surgery lies with continued basic science research and its application to clinical medicine.