Cognitive outcome after epilepsy surgery in children

Brain Dev. 2013 Sep;35(8):721-9. doi: 10.1016/j.braindev.2013.01.011. Epub 2013 Feb 21.


The ultimate goal of epilepsy surgery in young children is to stop seizures, interrupt the downhill course of the epileptic encephalopathy, and improve developmental capacities. Postoperative outcome after childhood epilepsy surgery should therefore not only be expressed in terms of seizure freedom, cognitive outcome is an equally important outcome measure. Insight in the mutually dependent variables that can determine pre and postoperative cognitive developmental abilities will improve prediction of outcome and presurgical counseling of parents. The purpose of this review is to discuss the literature regarding cognitive outcome and the predictors of postoperative cognitive functioning after epilepsy surgery in children, particularly those with "catastrophic" epilepsy. There are only few studies in which the relation between possible determinants and cognitive outcome or change was statistically tested in a multivariable manner. Duration of epilepsy, presurgical Developmental Quotient (DQ) or Intelligence Quotient (IQ), and postoperative seizure freedom were the only factors reported in different studies to be independently related to eventual cognitive outcome after epilepsy surgery. Underlying etiology, gender, age at surgery, presurgical DQ/IQ, postoperative seizure freedom, cessation of antiepileptic medication, and follow-up interval have all been described in different surgical cohorts to be independently related to a postoperative change of IQ or DQ scores. To appreciate how each of the pre-epileptic, presurgical, and postoperative variables may independently influence eventual cognitive outcome and postoperative cognitive improvement, we need multicenter studies with large homogenous surgical populations, using standardized tests and multivariable analyses.

Keywords: Catastrophic epilepsy; Children; Cognitive outcome; Development; Epilepsy surgery; Epileptic encephalopathy; Intelligence; Pediatric.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Epilepsy / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / physiology*
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Treatment Outcome