Focal lesionectomy as surgical treatment of epilepsy in patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome: a case-based systematic review and meta-analysis

Neurosurg Focus. 2022 May;52(5):E4. doi: 10.3171/2022.2.FOCUS21788.


Objective: Sturge-Weber syndrome (SWS) is a rare neurocutaneous disorder presenting mostly with a facial port-wine stain and leptomeningeal angiomatosis. More than 85% of the patients are affected by epilepsy by the age of 2 years. Seizure and symptom control is the focus of SWS treatment, since no causal therapy exists yet. For pharmacologically intractable epilepsy, surgery is a treatment option. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to provide an overview of the literature regarding lesionectomy in SWS with a focus on seizure outcome, complications, and motor and cognitive development.

Methods: The PubMed and Embase databases were searched using a systematic search strategy to identify studies on SWS from their inception until 2021. Two independent researchers assessed the studies for inclusion and quality. Outcome measures were seizure outcome, postoperative complications, and motor and cognitive development. Thereafter, a systematic review was conducted, and a meta-analysis was performed for all included cohort studies. Risk of bias was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Forest plots have been generated for all outcomes; risk ratio was used for pooled outcomes. A p value < 0.05 was considered as statistically significant.

Results: After removal of duplicates, the authors screened 439 articles, of which 9 articles with 150 patients were included. Our case and 5 case reports and 4 retrospective cohort studies were included for systematic review. The latter 4 studies qualified for the meta-analysis. In these 4 articles, 144 patients received surgical treatment: 81 (56%) underwent focal lesionectomy and 63 (44%) hemispherectomy. Pooled outcome analysis for postoperative favorable seizure outcome showed a nonsignificant difference between lesionectomy and hemispherectomy (69.2% vs 87.3%; RR 0.73, 95% CI 0.50-1.08; t = -2.56, p = 0.08). Lesionectomy showed a significantly lower rate for developmental delay and postoperative hemiparesis in comparison with hemispherectomy (29.8% vs 76.3%; RR 0.41, 95% CI 0.28-0.59; z = -4.77, p < 0.0001 and 18.1% vs 100%; RR 0.11, 95% CI 0.06-0.21; z = -6.58, p < 0.0001, respectively).

Conclusions: Based on the limited literature available, lesionectomy leads to a nonsignificant lower seizure control rate, while postoperative developmental or motor deficits are significantly lower compared with hemispherectomy. Therefore, focal lesionectomy remains a valid alternative to hemispherectomy in SWS with a clearly localized epileptogenic area; however, individual case-based decisions in a specialized multidisciplinary team are of paramount importance.

Keywords: Sturge-Weber syndrome; epilepsy surgery; focal lesionectomy; hemispherectomy; intractable epilepsy; neurocutaneous disorders; pediatric neurosurgery.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Epilepsy* / etiology
  • Epilepsy* / surgery
  • Hemispherectomy*
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Seizures / surgery
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome* / complications
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome* / surgery