Patients who have seizures after surgery for epilepsy have an eight times greater chance of continuing to have attacks.
Around one per cent of the US population suffers from epilepsy – a neurological condition caused by excess electrical activity in the brain, leading to seizures and loss of consciousness.
More severe cases of epilepsy can be treated by surgery. Some patients have seizures after surgery which has usually been put down to swelling of the brain or minor trauma. However, such seizures may be more significant than this. A team at the University of Melbourne, Australia, has looked at 325 patients undergoing epilepsy surgery. Those who had a seizure within four weeks of the operation, in the absence of triggers like brain swelling, were eight times more likely to have persistent epilepsy several months later.
Even if the patient did have a seizure trigger, the presence of post-surgery seizures meant a three fold increase in the risk of ongoing epilepsy. However, this does not mean the operation was a failure. Most still had benefit in terms of reduced seizure frequency. The findings may add to our understanding of epilepsy. They also have implications for counseling patients on the possible outcomes of epilepsy surgery.