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Adv Tech Stand Neurosurg. 2012;39:165-94. doi: 10.1007/978-3-7091-1360-8_7.

Critical review of palliative surgical techniques for intractable epilepsy.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Epilepsy Center, University of Freiburg, Germany.


Approximately one third of epilepsy patients are not adequately treatable by antiepileptic medication. Curative resective epilepsy surgery can be performed in only a subgroup of these pharmacoresistent patients in whom the epileptogenic focus is localizable and does not overlap with eloquent brain areas. To the remaining patients (with bilateral or multiple epileptogenic foci, with epilepsy onset in eloquent areas, or with no identifiable epileptogenic focus) palliative epilepsy surgery can be offered if they suffer from disabling seizures. Standard palliative procedures currently comprise corpus callosotomy, multiple subpial transections, and vagus nerve stimulation. New approaches such as focus distant deep brain stimulation or direct stimulation of the hippocampus have gained the most interest. Feasibility studies, small pilot studies, and, recently, larger multicenter trials showed that direct brain stimulation shall be considered a potential helpful procedure in the field of palliative surgery. Moreover, with the increasing use of stereo-EEG in invasive video-EEG monitoring, stereo-EEG-guided thermocoagulation has the potential for a promising new treatment option in patients not amenable to resective epilepsy surgery. There is no general consensus on which palliative procedure is most effective in patients with difficult-to-treat epilepsy syndromes. The decision must be based on individual factors of a given patient. This review summarizes experience with palliative approaches collected in adult and pediatric patient series over the past decades and may help to thoroughly balance beneficial effects and risks of each procedure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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