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Despite treatment with one or more antiepileptic drugs and good compliance, disabling seizures persist in many patients. This is called pharmacoresistance.
In a significant number of cases, a surgical intervention can improve the condition, i.e. removal of epileptic brain tissue with the ultimate goal of seizure-freedom.
However, before any intervention, two criteria have to be fulfilled:
The overall goal is postoperative seizure-freedom; in rare cases, the goal has to be formulated more cautiously and consists of reducing seizures or reducing the most disabling type of seizure (e.g. daily drop-attacks with head trauma in patients with an intellectual disability)
Generally speaking, the more precisely the focus can be localized, the higher are the chances of postoperative seizure-freedom - provided that the focus resides in resectable brain tissue.
In the majority of cases, non-invasive exams are sufficient to pose the correct diagnosis. These include:
The realization of all exams as well as the recording of several habitual seizures requires 1-2 weeks of hospitalization at the University Hospital of Geneva.
In 10-20% of all patients, the focus or adjacent vital cortex cannot be precisely localized sufficiently despite this comprehensive battery of tests. In some cases, invasive monitoring could be recommended, i.e. recording seizures using implanted electrodes (implantation by the neurosurgeon).
In our laboratory, all invasive techniques are offered (subdural electrodes, depth electrodes, foramen ovale electrodes) which may also identify vital cortex.