Employment after anterior temporal lobectomy

Epilepsia. 2011 May;52(5):925-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03098.x.


Purpose: To explore the effect of anterior temporal lobectomy on employment and define demographic and clinical predictors of postoperative employment in a large cohort with a prolonged observational period.

Methods: Subjects had an anterior temporal lobectomy for refractory epilepsy. All had an assessment period of 4 years or more with documentation of demographic factors, employment status, and seizure frequency prospectively registered in a database at surgery and at each contact after surgery. McNemar chi-square and a Wilcoxon matched pairs test were used to compare employment status before and after surgery. A multiple logistic regression assessed independent predictors of postoperative employment status based on preoperative employment status.

Key findings: Three hundred sixty-nine patients were evaluated. Employment levels were higher and unemployment levels were lower after surgery (McNemar χ(2) = 3.96; p = 0.047). Working before surgery (Wald's χ(2) = 22.69, p < 0.0001) and having a greater percent of seizure-free years (Wald's χ(2) = 34.43, p < 0.0001) were associated with being employed after surgery. Of 131 patients who were unemployed or homemakers before surgery, 67 (51.1%) became employed postoperatively, with a younger age at surgery, a younger age of epilepsy onset, and driving a motor vehicle associated with gaining employment. Of 172 patients who were working at baseline, 27 (15.7%) became unemployed or homemakers after surgery. Gender was the only variable associated with loss of employment, with women being more likely to become homemakers (χ(2) = 14.98, d.f.= 6, p = 0.02). Most students were working after surgery, with seizure control influencing outcome.

Significance: Anterior temporal lobectomy is followed by reduced unemployment and underemployment, with elimination of seizures, relative youth, and operating a motor vehicle serving as the main driving forces for improvement. This is important information for patients and physicians who contemplate surgery as it helps define reasonable expectations, and provides further objective evidence for benefits beyond purely medical outcomes after epilepsy surgery.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anterior Temporal Lobectomy / methods*
  • Child
  • Employment*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Temporal Lobe / surgery