Mortality after Epilepsy Surgery


  • The commission wishes to acknowledge the support of UCB Pharma for logistical support in the organization of this workshop.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Michael R. Sperling at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, 900 Walnut St., Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19107, U.S.A. E-mail:


Summary:  Mortality rates are higher in people with refractory epilepsy than in the general population. We assessed mortality rates in a prospectively followed cohort who had epilepsy surgery, to examine the factors related to mortality and to assess the relationship between seizure control and mortality. Five hundred eighty-three patients were evaluated. Mortality was strongly related to seizure control (p = 0.001), with 18 deaths observed in patients with recurrent seizures (mortality rate = 11.4 per 1,000 person-years) and 1 death in patients with no recurrent seizures (mortality rate = 0.85 deaths per 1,000 person-years). Patients with generalized epilepsy who had corpus callosotomy had a higher mortality rate than patients who had resective or transective surgery. The side of surgery and gender did not influence mortality rates. The standardized mortality ratio was 5.75 for patients with recurrent seizures and was significantly higher for females than males. These data show that the excess mortality associated with refractory epilepsy is eliminated after epilepsy surgery when seizures are abolished and suggest that epilepsy surgery reduces the risk of epilepsy-associated death.