HealthDay News — More than nine out of 10 epilepsy patients that underwent surgery to control their seizures are happy they did so, according to survey findings published in Epilepsy & Behavior.
The study authors focused on a pool of 470 men and women with epilepsy. All had been operated on between 1993 and 2011. Ninety-two percent of patients said they considered their surgery to be “worthwhile.” Slightly less than one-third said they were currently seizure-free, while three-quarters described the results of their surgery as “favorable,” meaning total seizure relief or only rare occurrences of “disabling” seizures. Those “favorable” outcomes held steady over time, seen among 77% of patients during the five years after surgery and among 78% of patients who reached the 15-year-plus mark.
Seizure-free status was somewhat less steady, seen among 41% prior to the five-year mark, but only among 29% after five to 10 years. Between 10 and 15 years after surgery, the numbers rose back to 38%, only to drop to 26% among the 15-year-plus group. One-fifth of the patients said they were no longer taking any kind of anti-seizure medication following surgery. Use of antidepressants increased to 30% following surgery (up from 22% beforehand), 51% said they were able to drive postsurgery, compared with just 35% before.
Study coauthor Marianna Spanaki-Varelas, MD, PhD, MBA, director of the Henry Ford Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, said that epilepsy surgery is still highly underutilized in this country.
“There is a misconception, even among physicians, that surgery should be considered the very last resort,” Spanaki-Varelas explained to HealthDay. “But we should not delay surgery until all drugs are tried. If a patient fails on one, two or, at maximum, three medications, alone or in combination, then they need to be considered as [surgical] candidates.” That position, Spanaki-Varelas noted, is supported by the American Academy of Neurology.