Why is testing needed before epilepsy surgery?
Success rates for epilepsy surgery are constantly improving, and advances in preoperative testing are largely responsible. Proper patient selection and a thorough presurgical workup is critical.
If a review of the person's experiences with seizure medicines shows that adequate tests of at least a few different medications have not controlled seizures, a person may be referred to a specialized epilepsy center where presurgical testing can be done.
The preoperative assessment has two general objectives:
- To maximize seizure control after surgery
- To minimize disruption of normal brain functioning.
What is done during a presurgical evaluation?
The number and type of tests that make up the preoperative assessment will depend on the type of surgery being considered. General objectives of the tests include:
- Assessing the person's current status:
- These may include evaluations with epilepsy doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, social workers and neuropsychology testing.
- Determining the exact location of seizure activity:
- Tests usually include Video EEG monitoring, MRI scans, and neuropsychology testing. Other tests may include PET, SPECT or MEG studies.
- Evaluating the surrounding areas of the brain to determine what kinds of problems the patient might experience after surgery:
- Wada tests and/or functional MRI scans can help determine the location of language, memory and other important brain functions.
- Brain mapping at the time of surgery evaluates areas of the brain around the seizure focus.