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Acta Neurol Scand. 2015 Jan;131(1):58-62. doi: 10.1111/ane.12311. Epub 2014 Oct 2.

The prognosis of refractory epilepsy patients rejected from epilepsy surgery.

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Department of Neurology, Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, Zerifin, Israel.



Up to one-third of individuals diagnosed as having epilepsy continue to have seizures despite appropriate anti-epileptic drug treatment. These patients are often referred for presurgical evaluation, and many are rejected from focal resective surgery due to medical reasons or, alternatively, they choose not to undergo it. We compared the outcomes and characteristics of the non-operated patients who continued on medical therapy alone with those who underwent vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) implantation in addition to medical therapy.


The medical records of consecutive adult patients referred for presurgical evaluation for suitability for epilepsy surgery in the Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center between 2007 and 2011 and were rejected from or decided against surgery were reviewed. Updated information on seizure frequency was supplemented by telephone interviews between April and July, 2013.


Fifty-two patients who continued solely on medical therapy and 35 patients who additionally underwent VNS implantation were included in the study. Forty-seven of the former and 33 of the latter agreed to be interviewed. There was a significant improvement in the seizure frequency between the time of the presurgical evaluation and the time of the interview in both groups. Eight medically treated patients (17%) and 2 patients who also underwent VNS implantation (6%) reported being seizure-free during the preceding 3 months.


A considerable minority of patients with refractory epilepsy who were rejected or chose not to undergo epilepsy surgery may improve over time and even become seizure-free following adjustment of anti-epileptic drugs with or without concomitant VNS.


epilepsy surgery; prognosis; refractory epilepsy; vagus nerve stimulation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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