Long-term outcome after epilepsy surgery in older adults

Johannes D Lang, Laura Grell, Mareike Hagge, Müjgan Dogan Onugoren, Stephanie Gollwitzer, Wolfgang Graf, Michael Schwarz, Roland Coras, Ingmar Blümcke, Björn Sommer, Karl Rössler, Michael Buchfelder, Stefan Schwab, Hermann Stefan, Hajo M Hamer
Seizure: the Journal of the British Epilepsy Association 2018, 57: 56-62

PURPOSE: The incidence of epilepsy in older adults is growing, as does the incidence of comorbidities. Therefore, when it comes to epilepsy surgery in medically intractable epilepsy, age is often seen as a limiting factor. To investigate the outcome after epilepsy surgery in a population of older adults, we compared the benefit for patients aged 50-59 years with those aged 60 years and older in respect of efficacy and safety.

METHOD: Patients aged ≥50 years with medically intractable epilepsy who underwent epilepsy surgery from 1990 to 2013 were selected from the database of a German epilepsy center. All of them received a standardised and detailed presurgical diagnostic evaluation. Follow-up included at least four scheduled visits with EEG, MRI and neuropsychological testing. Outcome was assessed using the Engel outcome scale.

RESULTS: 79 patients aged between 50 and 67 years were followed-up for a median of 4.7 years (2-16 years). 68% of patients were free of disabling seizures (Engel class I, ≥60 years: 75%) and 58% were seizure-free (Engel class IA, ≥60 years: 70%). 90% of our patients suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), 9% from frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) and one occipital lobe epilepsy (OLE). After surgery, 9% discontinued or tapered their medication. Permanent surgical complications occurred in 10% of cases and transient neurological deficits were seen in 11%. Older patients had a higher risk for postoperative hygroma (≥60 years 15%; <60 years 8%) and were more prone to postoperative memory deficits (≥60 years 45%), especially after resection of the dominant temporal lobe. Verbal and figural memory testing did not differ significantly between the groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The results support the view that in selected older patients, epilepsy surgery shows equal or even higher success rates as compared to younger patients. However, patients of older age may be at greater risk for postoperative hygroma and memory deficits, especially after dominant temporal lobe resections.

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