Aim of the study: To find determinants of quality of life (QOL) in long-term follow-up after temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) surgery in adults.
Methods: The QOLIE-31 questionnaire was sent to 400 of 524 patients who were operated on for refractory TLE between 1991 and 2003 in the Bethel Epilepsy Centre fulfilling the inclusion criteria of this study. Mainly patients with severe cognitive deficits and patients with progressive brain disorders were excluded. There were 222/400 patients who replied to the QOLIE-31 questionnaire and 147/222 of these patients replied to an additional questionnaire.
Results: Univariate analyses showed that seizure freedom, presence of auras, intake of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), severity of AED side effects, and driving a car were significantly correlated with all subscales of QOLIE-31. Furthermore, employment status, psychiatric problems, tumors and hippocampus sclerosis pathology, the presence of a partner, age at reply, age at surgery and medical co-morbidities were significantly correlated with some subscales of the QOLIE-31. Multivariate analyses (stepwise regression analyses) revealed that especially the time since the last seizure and the severity of AED side effects had a strong impact on QOL. However, aura at last follow-up, psychiatric treatment and employment were seen in the multivariate analyses as significant predictors of some QOL subscales as well. Most subscales of QOL showed a steep, non-linear increase within the first years of seizure freedom and remained relatively stable except for cognitive function which showed continuous improvement parallel to seizure freedom. For patients who were seizure free since surgery, side effects of AED and/or psychiatric treatment were the strongest determinants of QOL.
Conclusion: Duration of seizure freedom and AED side effects have the strongest impact on QOL in the long-term follow-up. Therefore it is important not only to register intake of AEDs but also to assess side effects of AEDs. Persistence of auras also had an impact on different facets of QOL, but was significantly correlated with intake of AEDs. Apart from factors directly related to epilepsy QOL was dependent of psychosocial factors as employment status, psychiatric complications, and driving a car underlining the necessity of postoperative rehabilitation in this group.