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Epilepsia. 2000;41 Suppl 4:S22-7.

Corpus callosotomy in Colombia and some reflections on care and research among the poor in developing countries.

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  • 1Neurological Hospital, Colombian League Against Epilepsy, Cartagena.


The authors present the results of a series of corpus callosotomies (CCS) in 97 patients performed from 1989 to 1997 at the Hospital Neurologico of the Liga Colombiana Contra La Epilepsia, Cartagena, Colombia. This study demonstrates the feasibility of performing these procedures in the developing world and analyzes the outcome and cost of treatment. Patients with medically intractable secondarily generalized epilepsy, bilateral nonfocal epileptic electroencephalogram (EEG), and absence of progressive encephalopathy were accepted as candidates (patients aged 0-30 years; 62 children, 19 girls and 43 boys, with mean age at surgery of 7.9 years; 35 adults, 19 women and 16 men, with mean age at surgery of 25.8 years). Preoperatively, the mean seizure frequency was 12.1 per day, or 364 per month (range, 0.06-200 per day, 1.8-6000 per month). Before surgery, 40% of patients were classified with generalized tonic-clonic seizures of different etiologies, or cryptogenic seizures; 36% had mixed seizures; 19% had Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome; and 5% had West Syndrome. Usually, routine EEG, computed tomography, and clinical findings sufficed for the surgical decision. The standard microsurgical technique performed was an anterior two-thirds CCS by the same surgeon under general anesthesia. In five cases, an additional frontal lobe excision after electrocorticography and subdural electrode monitoring was carried out in the same session. The results were evaluated after a mean follow-up of 35 months (range, 12-28). Two thirds of patients became seizure-free or were left with none or some disabling seizures. AED medication was eased slightly after surgery. The complication rate was low. The patients underwent postoperative psychosocial studies and neuropsychological rehabilitation and showed tendencies toward improvement. The direct cost of CCS in U.S. dollars (US$) ranged between 3,137 and 3,995 depending on the preoperative studies. Thus, CCS is well suited for selected patients in developing countries. Thus far, implantation of a vagus nerve stimulator has exceeded our economic possibilities in treating similar patients. Some reflections on care and research among epilepsy patients in developing countries are discussed.

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