Most people with epilepsy have their seizures well-controlled by medication. However, for a small number of people who have tried all suitable available anti-epileptic drugs and not achieved control, surgery may be an option. Because of the possible risks involved and the fact that surgery for epilepsy is not readily available, this option is only used when other treatments have been unsuccessful.
If a consultant believes that surgery might be an option, a number of tests have to be carried out. These will investigate, for example, whether there is an area in the brain which can be operated on, how safe this would be, and the likely success in terms of seizure control.
The people we interviewed who’d had surgery discussed the various tests used to decide whether surgery was an option. One person described some of the tests he had just before and during the operation, while another recalled her concerns at the time.
Discusses some of the tests he had just before and during surgery.
Discusses her concerns before having surgery for epilepsy.
People also discussed their thoughts about the risks involved and their decisions to go ahead with the operation. For many of these people, surgery was a source of hope after years of poorly controlled seizures. One woman explained how a brain tumour was found during surgery and that having the operation was as much for her daughter as it was for her.
Explains why he wanted to have surgery and did not feel nervous before the operation.
Explains that a brain tumour was found during surgery and her reasons for having the operation.
Another person explained why she decided to have surgery in the USA rather than the UK, although doing this is very rare. She also discussed her feelings before the operation. Other men and women, all of whom had their surgery in the UK, recalled how they felt immediately after the operation. Some people reported having severe headaches, but also recommended surgery for epilepsy.
Explains why she had surgery in the USA rather than in the UK and her feelings before the operation.
Recalls how he felt after the operation.
Recalls her feelings after having the operation and recommends surgery for epilepsy.
People who became seizure free after having surgery noted the improvements to their lives. A few mentioned that, though they were now seizure free, they very occasionally experienced auras or panic attacks under stress. One man described how neurosurgery had changed his life although he was still having auras. One woman explained how she became seizure free two years after surgery and why she preferred to continue taking medication.
Recalls some of the changes in her life since having surgery.
Describes the effects of surgery on his life although he still has auras.
Explains that she became seizure free two years after surgery and why she does not want to stop…
For some people, while surgery improves the frequency and intensity of seizures, it does not stop them completely. This man explained that, despite having two operations for epilepsy, he was still having seizures. Several people also discussed the effects of surgery on their memory.