Surgery Helps Epilepsy Patients Lead Normal Lives

DNA India
23 November 2011
By Alifiya Khan
Pune India

Two years ago, Shalini Raman (name changed on request) sat down with her doctor to learn about the side effects of a complicated brain surgery to be performed on her.

Ostracised for getting frequent fits, the 18–year–old had been suffering from epilepsy since her teenage and was fed up of being ridiculed by her peers.

Shalini was so traumatised by her condition that she didn't think twice before agreeing to the surgery even though she was told about a rare side effect of the surgery– paralysis.

Today, the management student has no regrets about her decision to go ahead with the surgery; it has been two years and she has not suffered a single epileptic fit since the surgery. Shalini is not alone, there are many patients like her and the number of success stories is going up every day, say doctors.

"The goal of epilepsy surgery is to identify and remove an abnormal area of the brain from which the seizures originate. The goal is to eliminate seizures or reduce the burden of epileptic fits. About 70% of epileptic patients respond to anti–epileptic drugs, but 30% of the patients do not. About a third of these patients can be helped with surgical procedure," said Dr Nandan Yardi, epileptologist and president of the Indian Epilepsy Association (Pune chapter).

"With the help of specialised techniques and detailed examinations, the area in the brain responsible for epilepsy is localised and mapped out. An epilepsy surgery is then performed to remove the part of the brain responsible for epilepsy," said neurologist Avanti Biniwale.

"In Pune, epilepsy surgery was introduced a few years ago with the first operation taking place at Jehangir Hospital, where scores of patients have been operated since with a success rate of nearly 70%," said neurologist Dr Nasli Ichaporia. While the surgery is recommended for patients who do not respond to medicines, doctors say the vital aspect is selecting the right patient.

"Yes, epilepsy surgery is definitely the way forward and a rising trend in epileptic treatment. But the key is to identify the right candidate for surgery, as a small mistake can prove costly," said Ichaporia. He said that the procedure to select the patient for surgery is lengthy and detailed.

"Doctors first conduct clinical examinations and record a patient's history followed by electroencephalogram (EEG) examinations of the brain where attacks are recorded. This is followed by other investigations," he added.

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