What are the long-term effects of epilepsy surgery? This is the question that Dr. Mary Lou Smith has been investigating in a series of research studies that have looked at the outcomes of people with drug-resistant epilepsy who had surgery as children.
Dr. Smith compared people who underwent surgery with those who did not, and followed up with them several years later. In the year before the follow-up, there were no differences between the surgical and non-surgical groups in the number of participants who were seizure-free. However, as a group, those who had surgery achieved seizure freedom faster and used fewer anti-seizure medications at follow-up than those who did not. People who were seizure-free also reported having fewer symptoms of depression, although there was no difference in symptoms of anxiety.
Importantly, people who were seizure-free reported having better quality of life, and reported fewer instances of aggressive behaviour and attention problems. Quality of life was influenced strongly by the presence of depressive symptoms.
Seizure freedom was also linked with small improvements over time in scores on tests of intelligence. Having poor seizure control, on the other hand, was associated with difficulties in spelling and math.
Seizure freedom was not related to outcomes with respect to education level, employment or income.
You can read the full summary of Dr. Smith’s studies here: http://eplink.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/MLS-Booklet.pdf