Psychosocial difficulties and outcome after temporal lobectomy

Epilepsia. Sep-Oct 1992;33(5):898-907. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1992.tb02198.x.


One hundred fifteen consecutive patients in the Austin Hospital Comprehensive Epilepsy Program (Melbourne, Australia) were surveyed to document the psychosocial and rehabilitation difficulties after temporal lobectomy. During the follow-up period (mean 4 years) 3 patients died, 5 patients were lost to follow-up, and 107 patients with family and friends were interviewed. Eighty-four patients (78%) had been seizure-free for the year preceding the interview; 13 others had seizure reduction greater than 75%. Success in ablation or reduction in seizures correlated with the amount of postoperative gain, but in this series, analysis of work and dependency outcome did not emphasize areas of success. Although improvement in work and financial status, interpersonal relations and sexuality were all recorded, successful patients deemed that most advance had been made in the areas of newly acquired independence, enhanced career potential, and social freedom. Significant postoperative anxiety, especially after left temporal lobectomy, was noted, possibly explained by benzodiazepine antiepileptic drug (AED) discontinuation. Although 1 patient committed suicide, neither depression nor psychosis was common in the rehabilitation period, in contrast to results in previous series. Significant sociodomestic problems emerged from this survey, however: 35% of patients considered successes reported postoperative problems stemming from the necessity to restructure family dynamics; in 6%, this resulted in divorce. Moreover, 20% of patients and relatives reported significant behavioral problems in coping with the seizure-free lifestyle. Finally, the problems of the worsened situation after surgical failure indicated the counterproductive potential of ineffective lobectomy. These results indicate the necessity for a preoperative counseling program to prevent these problems.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Attitude to Health
  • Counseling
  • Employment
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / surgery*
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Libido
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Postoperative Complications / psychology
  • Postoperative Complications / rehabilitation*
  • Seizures / mortality
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Seizures / rehabilitation
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Adjustment
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Temporal Lobe / surgery*