Pilot Study of Neurodevelopmental Impact of Early Epilepsy Surgery in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex

Pediatr Neurol. 2020 Aug:109:39-46. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2020.04.002. Epub 2020 Apr 14.


Background: To determine if early epilepsy surgery mitigates detrimental effects of refractory epilepsy on development, we investigated surgical and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children with tuberous sclerosis complex who underwent surgery before age two years.

Methods: Prospective multicenter observational study of 160 children with tuberous sclerosis complex. Surgical outcome was determined for the seizure type targeted by surgery. We obtained Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Second Edition (Vineland-II); Mullen Scales of Early Learning; and Preschool Language Scales, Fifth Edition, at age three, six, nine, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months. Surgical cases were compared with children without seizures, with controlled seizures, and with medically refractory seizures.

Results: Nineteen children underwent surgery (median age 17 months, range 3.7 to 21.3), and mean follow-up was 22.8 months (range 12 to 48). Surgical outcomes were favorable in 12 (63%, Engel I-II) and poor in seven (37%, Engel III-IV). Nine (47%) had new or ongoing seizures distinct from those surgically targeted. All children with seizures demonstrated longitudinal decline or attenuated gains in neurodevelopment, the surgical group scoring the lowest. Favorable surgical outcome was associated with increased Mullen Scales of Early Learning receptive and expressive language subscores compared with the medically refractory seizure group. A nonsignificant but consistent pattern of improvement with surgery was seen in all tested domains.

Conclusions: These pilot data show neurodevelopmental gains in some domains following epilepsy surgery. A properly powered, prospective multicenter observational study of early epilepsy surgery is needed, using both surgical and developmental outcome metrics.

Keywords: Children; Epilepsy; Epilepsy surgery; Tuberous sclerosis complex.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / etiology*
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / etiology*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / surgery*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Tuberous Sclerosis / complications*