Hemispherectomy has been performed in the treatment of epilepsy in association with hemiplegia for over 50 years. However, the optimal timing of surgery with respect to age at presentation and the influence of underlying pathology on outcome is only slowly emerging. This study reports on the clinical course and outcomes of 33 children who underwent hemispherectomy at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, between 1991 and 1997. Age at surgery was 0.33-17 years (median 4.25) with 1-8 years follow-up (median 3.4). The underlying pathology was developmental in 16 (10 hemimegalencephaly, two polymicrogyria, two focal cortical dysplasia, one diffuse cortical dysplasia and one microdysgenesis), acquired in 11 (six middle cerebral artery infarct, three post encephalitis/trauma, and one each of hemiconvulsion-hemiplegia epilepsy and perinatal ischaemic insult) and progressive in six children (four Rasmussen encephalitis, two Sturge-Weber syndrome). At follow-up, 52% were seizure free, 9% experienced rare seizures, 30% showed >75% reduction in seizures and 9% showed 75% reduction in seizures occurred in 100% of those with progressive pathology, 91% of those with acquired and 88% of those with developmental pathology, indicating a worthwhile seizure outcome in all groups. Hemiplegia remained unchanged following surgery in 22 out of 33 children, improved in five and was worse in six. No significant cognitive deterioration or loss of language occurred, and four children showed significant cognitive improvement. Behavioural improvement was reported in 92% of those who had behaviour problems pre-operatively.
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