Right temporal lobe epilepsy surgery activates suppressed post-traumatic stress disorder 31 years after a robbery

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2022 Feb;164(2):549-554. doi: 10.1007/s00701-021-05091-9. Epub 2022 Jan 5.


Hippocampus and amygdala play central roles in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Changes in neurological structures due to surgery leading to PTSD have previously been reported. In this case, we present a patient that develops PTSD right after epilepsy surgery in the right temporal lobe. The case adds knowledge to the mechanisms of storage of PTSD memories. A 56-year-old male suffering from refractory temporal lobe epilepsy was treated with an anteromesial temporal lobe resection on the right side. A few weeks after the surgery, he developed strong PTSD symptoms. They included flashbacks from a robbery he was subjected to three decades ago when he was 25 years old. In addition, he suffered from hypervigilance, irritability, and avoidance behavior. Psychotherapy eventually eased his symptoms. No previous disorders were recorded. No psychiatry symptoms were present before surgery. This case is one of few reports on the sudden occurrence of PTSD after epilepsy-surgery in the form of right-sided anteromesial temporal lobe resection. The disorder may not have been detected if not included in the Danish Epilepsy-Surgery-Protocol, among them both the pre-surgery psychiatric management and in the post-operative monitoring.

Keywords: Epilepsy; Neurosurgery; PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / surgery
  • Epilepsy*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / psychology
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Lobe / surgery