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Epilepsy surgery has good effect

31.05.2010
Patients with drug-resistant epilepsy run the risk of gradual deterioration in their cognitive abilities. Surgical treatment generally puts an end to seizures but can have a negative effect on memory.

However, there is no further deterioration in memory, and some patients may even recover some of their memory capacity, reveals a thesis from the University of Gothenburg.

In a study carried out at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, one group of 36 patients were given medication for their epilepsy while a second group of 51 patients underwent surgery. There was also a control group of healthy volunteers. All of the participants underwent a series of tests, including intellectual capacity, memory, attention and mental processing speed.

The group treated with medication was followed up after five years.

“We found that the members of this group had more cognitive difficulties than members of the control group, and their memory, attention and processing speed had also deteriorated relative to the control group,” explains Lena Andersson-Roswall, registered psychologist and member of the Epilepsy Research Group at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at the University of Gothenburg.

The surgically-treated patients were followed up after two and ten years. It emerged that these patients’ cognitive abilities did not decline between the two follow-ups.

“But verbal memory can be affected by surgery in the left temporal lobe. We also saw deterioration in these patients two years after surgery, but after ten years these memory problems had not worsened, although it did vary from person to person.”

The thesis also finds evidence of partial recovery of memory function in some patients.

Andersson-Roswall believes that it is important that patients with drug-resistant epilepsy are given an opportunity to be investigated for suitability for epilepsy surgery at an early stage of the disease, and that they are offered regular cognitive evaluations whatever the treatment.

“The results of our study can be used in investigations to advise on possible surgical treatment of those with drug-resistant epilepsy.”

EPILEPSY
Epilepsy takes the form of seizures, with or without loss of consciousness and simultaneous convulsions. The seizures are due to temporary disruptions in the brain’s electrical nerve impulses. The causes of epilepsy can be temporary or permanent damage to the brain, but cannot always be identified. Around 1% of the Swedish population has a tendency towards repeated epileptic seizures. Both medication and surgery are available to alleviate the symptoms.
For more information, please contact:
Athorized psychologist and researcher Lena Andersson-Roswall, tel: +46 707835898, e-mail: lenaar@privat.utfors.se
Thesis for the degree of PhD (Medicine) at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.
Title of thesis: Longitudinal cognitive changes in medically and surgically treated patients with drug resistant partial epilepsy.
The thesis was successfully defended.
Download the full thesis: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/21931

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://hdl.handle.net/2077/21931
http://www.gu.se/

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