One of the major challenges of using surgery to treat epilepsy has always been finding the place in the brain where the person’s seizures begin.
The more precisely doctors can pinpoint this area, the better they can focus efforts for surgical treatment. This is especially important in the delicate landscape of the brain where surgeons work to remove as little tissue as possible.
Now, a relatively new procedure called stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) is significantly boosting success rates of epilepsy surgery. It allows doctors to be much more precise in targeting the origin of seizures, and gives hope to people with severe epilepsy.
Before SEEG, the chances of eliminating seizures after epilepsy surgery were low — only about 20 to 30 percent. But now, SEEG has brought the rates of long-term success up to 55 to 60 percent.
“This is truly a breakthrough,” says epileptologist Jorge Gonzalez-Martinez, MD. “In the last 20 years, we’ve found new imaging technologies, new treatment tools and new medications, but there was really no change in the outcomes. That’s because we were always missing the localization.”