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J Neurosurg. 1994 Jul;81(1):37-42.

The role of hemispherectomy in the treatment of holohemispheric hemimegaloencephaly.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio.


The role of hemispherectomy in treating holohemispheric hemimegaloencephaly, a unilateral brain malformation, is still not well defined. The authors describe the cases of five infants presenting with intractable seizures, progressive neurological deficits, and severe developmental delay. Electroencephalography (EEG) showed generalized polyspikes from the megaloencephalic hemisphere and progressive slowing on the opposite side in all children; contralateral seizure spikes occurred in three children. Three of the five children underwent hemispherectomy for intractable seizures before 2 years of age, after which the seizures subsided completely in two children and improved remarkably in the third. Preoperative Wada testing proved useful in evaluating pharmacologically the effect of hemispherectomy on contralateral polyspikes. Postoperative EEG revealed the absence of polyspikes in the operated hemisphere and decreased slowing on the contralateral side. Psychomotor development in the surgically treated infants exceeded that of the children not undergoing hemispherectomy. Of the two children treated medically, one died at 4 years of age in status epilepticus and the other (now 5 years old) has frequent seizures and severe developmental delay. Based on these results, hemispherectomy appears to be a useful procedure for controlling seizures and improving psychomotor development in children with hemimegaloencephaly involving the entire hemisphere. Surgery in infancy can prevent or minimize seizure foci and encephalopathic changes that may develop in the contralateral hemisphere. Staging the procedure and exercising meticulous hemostasis make surgery relatively safe in infants who otherwise may have significant blood loss associated with increased blood flow to the megaloencephalic hemisphere.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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