No longer a last resort
The idea that brain surgery to stop seizures should only be considered a last resort is an outdated one. Once a child’s seizures are considered drug-resistant, a referral to an experienced pediatric epilepsy surgery facility for a surgery evaluation is warranted.
Seizures in infancy and early childhood can be catastrophic to overall development, causing regression of development or causing motor, intellectual, and behavioral functions to “freeze in time” with very little, if any, long-term progress. Ongoing seizures and long-term use of anti-epileptic drugs can wreak havoc on the developing brain. Recurrent seizures during early brain development in infancy and childhood can result in “major changes in synaptic network organization and irreversible alterations in neuronal connectivity.” There is substantial research to support that ongoing seizures can harm the brain.
Despite these facts, there continues to be a delay to referral to epilepsy surgery. A surgical evaluation will give a parent or guardian an idea of the options available to stop the child’s seizures.