Surgery for infants with catastrophic epilepsy: an analysis of complications and efficacy

Ramesh M. Kumar, Susan Koh, Kelly Knupp, Michael H. Handler, Brent R. O’Neill

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36 Scopus citations


Purpose: Infants with epilepsy often have a catastrophic course. There is a reluctance to operate in the very young, due to the perception of an unacceptable risk of morbidity with early operations. The purpose of this investigation was to better characterize the efficacy and safety of epilepsy surgery in infants. Methods: Epilepsy operations performed on children under 1 year old, between 2002 and 2013, were reviewed for demographic information, epilepsy characteristics, surgical approach, outcomes, and surgical complications. Results: Twenty-five patients, ages 11 days to 11.5 months (mean 4.7) at operation, were identified. All had daily seizures. Twenty-two (88 %) had an abnormal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Sixteen (64 %) patients underwent hemispherotomy at initial operation. Seven (28 %) infants had grid placement followed by focal resection. Focal cortical dysplasia was the most common pathology (40 %) followed by hemimegalencephaly (32 %). Complications occurred in 36 % of patients. These included hydrocephalus in five patients (20 %). Two patients had significant intra-operative complications which required unplanned staging of their operations. Both recovered without permanent injury. Mean follow-up was 62.4 months. Twenty patients (80 %) are seizure-free, and 10 (40 %) are off anticonvulsant medication. Two patients are Engel class 2, and the remaining three patients were Engel class 4, one of whom died with status epilepticus from the contralateral hemisphere. Conclusion: Infants with localization-related catastrophic epilepsy can have excellent outcomes from early epilepsy surgery. Complications are common in this patient group and proper diagnosis can be challenging. Young age should not exclude infants with catastrophic epilepsy from consideration for early surgical intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1479-1491
Number of pages13
JournalChild's Nervous System
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 10 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology

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