Epilepsy surgery for patients with genetic refractory epilepsy: a systematic review

Epileptic Disord. 2018 Apr 1;20(2):99-115. doi: 10.1684/epd.2018.0959.


In recent years, many different DNA mutations underlying the development of refractory epilepsy have been discovered. However, genetic diagnostics are still not routinely performed during presurgical evaluation and reports on epilepsy surgery outcome for patients with genetic refractory epilepsy are limited. We aimed to create an overview of the literature on seizure outcome following epilepsy surgery in patients with different genetic causes of refractory epilepsy. We systematically searched PubMed and Embase prior to January 2017 and included studies describing treatment outcome following epilepsy surgery in patients with genetic causes of epilepsy. We excluded studies in which patients were described with epilepsy due to Tuberous Sclerosis Complex or Sturge-Weber syndrome (since this extensive body of research has recently been described elsewhere) and articles in which surgery was aimed to be palliative. We identified 24 eligible articles, comprising a total of 82 patients who had undergone surgery for (mainly childhood-onset) refractory epilepsy due to 15 different underlying genetic causes. The success rate of surgery varied widely across these different genetic causes. Surgery was almost never effective in patients with epilepsy due to mutations in genes involved in channel function and synaptic transmission, whereas surgery was significantly more successful regarding seizure control in patients with epilepsy due to mutations in the mTOR pathway. Patients with a lesion on MRI tended to have higher seizure freedom rates than those who were MRI-negative. Although the evidence is still scarce, this systematic review suggests that studying genetic variations in patients with refractory epilepsy could help guide the selection of surgical candidates.

Keywords: MRI-negative; channelopathies; epilepsy surgery; hereditary; mTOR; mutation; seizure.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / diagnostic imaging
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neurosurgical Procedures*
  • Treatment Outcome