The kind of seizures you have and the part of your brain where they begin will determine whether surgery is likely to help you. The same things also will determine the specific type of operation that you should have.

What are the main types of epilepsy surgery?

  • The first, and by far the most common, is called resection or resective surgery. In this type, the surgeon removes the area of the brain that causes the patient's seizures. (The name of the specific procedure generally ends with "ectomy," which means removal by cutting.)
    • The most common type is called a temporal lobectomy, in which part of the temporal lobe of the brain is removed.
    • The goal of resective surgery for epilepsy is most often cure of the seizure disorder.
  • The second, less common type of epilepsy surgery interrupts nerve pathways that allow seizures to spread. The term disconnection is sometimes used to describe it.
    • One example of this kind of procedure is called a corpus callosotomy. (When you see "otomy" at the end of a word, it means that that thing is being cut.)
    • A procedure called multiple subpial transections is another example of this type of surgery. This procedure may be helpful when seizures begin in areas that are too important to remove.
    • Disconnection procedures are generally thought of as providing relief, but not a cure.
Authored by: Howard L. Weiner, MD | Joseph I. Sirven, MD
Reviewed by: Joseph I. Sirven, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 8/2013
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