Preparing for Epilepsy Surgery


The way each person prepares themselves, and their family, for surgery will vary. Some general steps every person should consider before having surgery include

  • Fully understand the results of the pre-surgical testing that has been done
  • Meet with your epileptologist and neurosurgeon to review the recommended surgery and any potential risks and benefits
  • Meet with your epilepsy nurse who can give you practical information about care needed after surgery, for example
    • Which doctor or nurse will check up on you after surgery?
    • Will you be in the intensive care unit (ICU) or on a regular hospital floor?
    • Can people visit you in the hospital after surgery?
    • How soon can you return to your usual activity after surgery?
    • Who will decide when you are ready to be discharged from the hospital?
  • Meet with your therapist and psychiatrist to
    • Review your support network
    • Share how you are feeling about having surgery, the recovery process, and the long-term impact on your life

Having support from your mental health team and the people closest to you (family and friends) and planning for their involvement as you recover is important.

Remember, preparing for surgery is done gradually over many months. The members of a person’s epilepsy team (neurosurgeon, epilepsy doctor, epilepsy nurse, neuropsychologist, and neuropsychiatrist) will all do their part to make sure you have the information and understanding needed to go into surgery feeling empowered and optimistic.

In the weeks leading up to epilepsy surgery you should

  • Continue to take your regular seizure medications as prescribed.
  • Eat a healthy diet and stay well hydrated.
  • Practice good sleep habits.
  • Stay active and in the best shape possible. This will help as you recover from surgery.
  • Follow all pre-surgery instructions. You may be asked to stop a medication that may increase your risk of bleeding.
  • Complete any lab test or other tests ordered by your epilepsy team or the pre-surgical evaluation team (internist and anesthesiologist).
  • Meet with your internist or other specialists if needed (such as, a cardiologist, pulmonologist, or psychiatrist) and review your plans for surgery and any concerns you may have.
  • Discuss your upcoming epilepsy surgery with your primary care doctor. He or she will be an important part of your support team before and after epilepsy surgery.
  • When you are ready, notify the people closest to you about your plans for surgery and how they can best support your decision and be there for you as you recover.

Authored By:

Elaine Kiriakopoulos MD, MSc

on Monday, October 15, 2018

Reviewed By:

Mohamad Koubeissi MD
Sandra Dewar PhD, RN, MS

on Monday, October 15, 2018


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