New frontiers in epilepsy surgery

Epilepsy remains one of the most common and disabling neurological conditions. Even though there has been some progress in educating the public about epilepsy, patients with this condition suffer significantly, not just from seizures, but also from the social and psychological consequences of an illness that continues to remain a stigma in many parts of the world. There have been lots of new treatments for epilepsy, in the form of new drugs that target different brain pathways. Nevertheless, there has been little change in the outcomes for patients who do not benefit from drug treatments. This remains a fairly high proportion of patients, in the order of 20-40%. Surgery for epilepsy is an option for these patients and it can be a life-changing decision for some.

In the present issue of JNNP, Nowell and colleagues from London have presented a very well written state-of-the-art review that outlines the surgical options for patients with intractable epilepsy http://jnnp.bmj.com/content/85/11/1273.abstract . In addition to resection procedures, they also discuss the role of stereotactic radiosurgery and laser ablation as methods of removing the seizure focus. They also outline the importance of early referral to centres of excellence as an important step in the management of patients who fail to respond to drug treatment.