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Epilepsia. 2011 May;52(5):880-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03014.x. Epub 2011 Mar 22.

Psychiatric outcomes of epilepsy surgery: a systematic review.

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Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



The objective of this systematic review was to identify: (1) prevalence and severity of psychiatric conditions before and after resective epilepsy surgery, (2) incidence of postsurgical psychiatric conditions, and (3) predictors of psychiatric status after surgery.


A literature search was conducted using PubMed, EmBase, and the Cochrane database as part of a larger project on the development of an appropriateness and necessity rating tool to identify patients of all ages with potentially resectable focal epilepsy. The search yielded 5,061 articles related to epilepsy surgery and of the 763 articles meeting the inclusion criteria and reviewed in full text, 68 reported psychiatric outcomes. Thirteen articles met the final eligibility criteria.


The studies demonstrated either improvements in psychiatric outcome postsurgery or no changes in psychiatric outcome. Only one study demonstrated deterioration in psychiatric status after surgery, with higher anxiety in the context of continued seizures post-surgery. One study reported a significantly increased rate of psychosis after surgery. The two main predictors of psychiatric outcome were seizure freedom and presurgical psychiatric history. De novo psychiatric conditions occurred postsurgery at a rate of 1.1-18.2%, with milder psychiatric issues (e.g., adjustment disorder) being more common than more severe psychiatric issues (e.g., psychosis).


Overall, studies demonstrated either improvement in psychiatric outcomes postsurgery or no change. However, there is a need for more prospective, well-controlled studies to better delineate the prevalence and severity of psychiatric conditions occurring in the context of epilepsy surgery, and to identify specific predictors of psychiatric outcomes after epilepsy surgery.

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