4-6-2009 | Study finds epilepsy surgery safe for young children

03 June 2009
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Surgery may be a good option for young children with drug-resistant epilepsy, new Canadian research reveals.

The study, from researchers at the British Columbia Children's Hospital, reviewed epilepsy surgeries that had taken place in children under three years of age in hospitals across Canada between 1987 and 2005.

In this period, there were 116 such surgeries in eight different hospitals. Before surgery, the children were having an average of 21 seizures a day, with one child having as many as 600 a day. 82% of the children had started to have seizures in their first year.

The review found that although one child had died, of the others, 67% were seizure-free one year after surgery. 14% had a greater than 90% improvement in seizures. Only 7.5% did not benefit from surgery. Furthermore, brain development improved in 55% of the children after surgery.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Steinbok of the University of British Columbia, who led the study, said "The results of this study lead us to conclude that epilepsy surgery in children under three years is relatively safe and is effective in controlling seizures. Thus, very young age is not a contraindication to surgery in children with epilepsy that is difficult to control with medications."

This study was published in the leading epilepsy journal Epilepsia.

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