Long-term intellectual outcome after temporal lobe surgery in childhood

Neurology. 2011 Apr 12;76(15):1330-7. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31821527f0.


Objective: Temporal lobe resection is an established treatment for medication-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy, which in recent years has increasingly been performed in children. However, little is known about the long-term outcome in these children. The aim of this study was to characterize intellectual and psychosocial functioning of children after temporal lobe resection as they progress into late adolescence and adulthood.

Methods: We report the long-term follow-up of 42 children who underwent temporal lobe surgery after an average postoperative period of 9 years. Longitudinal change in IQ was documented, psychosocial outcome including quality of life was assessed, and preoperative and postoperative T1-weighted MRI brain scans were evaluated quantitatively. A well-matched nonsurgical comparison group of 11 children with similar clinical characteristics was also assessed.

Results: At follow-up, 86% of the surgical group were seizure-free, and 57% were no longer taking antiepileptic medication. A significant increase in IQ was found in the surgical group after an extended follow-up period of >5 years. This IQ change was not found in the nonsurgical comparison group. IQ increases were associated with cessation of antiepileptic medication and changes in MRI-derived gray matter volume. The surgical group also reported better psychosocial outcome including quality of life, which was more strongly associated with seizure freedom rather than surgery per se.

Conclusions: Surgery for temporal lobe epilepsy performed in childhood results in excellent long-term seizure control and favorable cognitive outcome along with positive effects on brain development.

Classification of evidence: This study provides Class III evidence that temporal lobectomy in children with temporal lobe epilepsy is associated with improved long-term intellectual outcomes compared with those undergoing standard medical treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / psychology*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / psychology*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Periaqueductal Gray / pathology
  • Postoperative Period
  • Quality of Life
  • Temporal Lobe / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticonvulsants