Seizure outcomes in people with drug-resistant focal epilepsy evaluated for surgery but do not proceed

Anthony Khoo, Jane de Tisi, Shahidul Mannan, Aidan G. O'Keeffe, Josemir W. Sander, John S. Duncan

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To ascertain seizure outcomes in people with drug-resistant focal epilepsy considered for epilepsy surgery but who did not proceed. 

Methods: We identified people discussed at a weekly presurgical epilepsy multi-disciplinary (MDT) meeting from January 2015 to December 2019 and in whom a decision not to proceed to surgery was made. Seizure outcomes were obtained from individuals, primary care physicians and attending neurologists at a minimum of 12 months following the not to proceed decision. 

Results: We considered 315 people who did not proceed to surgery after evaluation. Nine died, and 25 were lost to follow-up. We included 281 people with a median follow-up of 2.4 (IQR 1.5–4) years. In total, 83 (30%) people reported that seizures had improved or resolved since the MDT meeting. Thirteen (5%) were seizure-free over the last 12 months of follow-up, 70 (25%) had experienced more than 50% reduction in seizure frequency, 180 (64%) had no meaningful change, and 18 (6%) reported a doubling of seizure frequency. Of the 53 (16%) who had vagal nerve stimulation, 19/53 (37%) reported more than 50% reduction in frequency, including one seizure-free. 

Significance: The chances of seizure freedom with further medications and neurostimulation are low for people with drug-resistant focal epilepsy who have been evaluated for surgery and do not proceed, but improvement may still occur. Up to a quarter have a > 50% reduction in seizures, and one in twenty become seizure-free eventually. Trying additional anti-seizure medication and neurostimulation is worthwhile in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106822
Number of pages3
JournalEpilepsy Research
Early online date23 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Epilepsy surgery
  • Seizure freedom
  • Vagal nerve stimulation


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