Age is but a number when considering epilepsy surgery in older adults

Epilepsy Behav. 2019 Feb;91:9-12. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2018.05.022. Epub 2018 Jul 8.


Background: A quarter of patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy are older, yet they are less likely to be offered resective surgery potentially because of clinical bias that they incur increased surgical risks. There are few peer-reviewed case series that address this cohort and their outcomes.

Objective: In the context of current literature, the objective of this study was to report on all epilepsy surgeries in patients aged 50 years or older from a tertiary care center over 15 years with an average follow-up period of 6 years.

Methods: Patients with epilepsy who underwent surgery between 2001 and 2016 were reviewed retrospectively. Inclusion criteria were age > 50 at surgery, availability of presurgical evaluation data, and minimum one year of follow-up data. We identified 34 patients. Seizure outcome was evaluated using the Engel classification system.

Results: Thirty-four patients aged 50 years and older out of 276 underwent epilepsy surgery. Average age at time of surgery was 55 years, and average duration of epilepsy was 30 years. Average length of follow-up was 6 years (1-15 years). Twenty-two out of 34 patients (64%) were seizure-free (Engel class I) at their last follow-up visit. Patients with lesional pathology on neuroimaging were more likely to achieve seizure freedom (p < 0.02). Parameters associated with poorer outcome included extratemporal epileptogenic focus (p = 0.07) and bitemporal interictal epileptiform activity (p = 0.003).

Conclusion: Our study cohort is one of the largest and most representative outcome studies of this age group, following the cohort for 6 years. Our findings demonstrated that when considering epilepsy surgery in an older adult, their age should not play a determining role in the decision-a finding that is more common in modern literature.

Keywords: Epilepsy surgery; Older adults; Outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Clinical Decision-Making / methods*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Epilepsy / diagnostic imaging*
  • Epilepsy / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / diagnostic imaging
  • Seizures / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome