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Home News News Year 2011 Epilepsy Patients Should Have Surgery Sooner as op 'Leaves Half Seizure-Free For More Than a Decade'

Epilepsy Patients Should Have Surgery Sooner as op 'Leaves Half Seizure-Free For More Than a Decade'

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Daily Mail
14 October 2011
By , Claire Bates

  • Scientists followed 615 post–surgery for 19 years
  • Calls for clinical practice to change after study results
Epilepsy sufferers who cannot control their condition with drugs should be referred for surgery sooner, according to researchers.
Scientists at University College London found almost half of people with the life–affecting condition are left seizure–free for ten years if they undergo a brain op.

Epilepsy Patients Should Have Surgery Sooner as op 'Leaves Half Seizure-Free For More Than a Decade'
Their report, published in medical journal The Lancet, suggests surgery could be an effective alternative for the third of patients who don't respond to costly drug treatment.

In the first long–term study of post–surgery epilepsy patients, researchers followed 615 patients for up to 19 years following surgery.

They found 82 per cent of them were seizure–free after one year, 52 per cent recorded no seizures after five years and 47 per cent still hadn't suffered an episode after a decade.

Study leader Professor John Duncan said: 'If the seizures aren't controlled with medication, that's where surgery should be considered.

'In those people, surgery has a good chance of stopping the seizures.'

Prof. Duncan and other experts said that in the light of their findings, it was important to improve pre–surgical assessments so that suitable patients could be offered surgery sooner.

The study found that the average period an epilepsy sufferer had the condition before surgery was 20 years.

In response to the report, Ahmed–Ramadan Sadek and William Peter Gray of the Wessex Neurological Center and Southampton University said doctors should change current practice to refer patients who might benefit from surgery earlier.

They said: 'This study validates the long–term effectiveness of epilepsy surgery.

'Clinical practice needs to change with the early referral of appropriate patients.'

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that affects around 50 million people worldwide and can cause recurring seizures, in which brain cells send out faulty signals, causing sometimes violent muscle spasms and loss of consciousness.

In the UK one in 131 people suffer from epilepsy in one of its forms.
There is no cure for the life–affecting condition but medications can help prevent seizures in some patients.

According to the World Health Organization, recent studies in both developed and developing countries have shown that up to 70 per cent of newly diagnosed children and adults with epilepsy can be successfully treated with anti–epileptic drugs.

After between two and five years of successful treatment, drugs can be withdrawn in about 70 per cent of children and 60 per cent of adults without relapses.

Around half of epilepsy cases are focal – where a specific part of the brain is affected – and surgery is only available to them in the UK when two or three types of medication have already failed.

Surgery has a one–off cost of around £13,000. Drug therapy, in contrast, costs around £1,000 a year plus ongoing costs of healthcare.

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