Objective: Surgical treatment in patients with brain tumors and medically intractable epilepsy is aimed at the removal of the neoplasm and complete seizure control. However, an adequate surgical approach is still controversial. This study was designed to analyze the factors for the optimum surgical treatment of these patients.
Methods: The clinical, electrophysiological, operative, and histopathological data of 146 consecutive patients who underwent surgery between November 1987 and May 1995 for intrinsic brain tumors and pharmacoresistant epilepsy were evaluated.
Results: The majority of the tumors were located in the temporal lobe (n = 116) and involved the cortical gray matter. The most frequent tumors were gangliogliomas (n = 65), pilocytic astrocytomas (n = 21), and dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumors (n = 19). All but three tumors (98%) were of low histopathological grade (World Health Organization Grades I or II). The biological behavior of the tumors was strikingly indolent, as indicated by a long preoperative history of chronic seizures (mean, 14 yr). In all cases, complete resection of the tumor, including the epileptogenic area (as determined by noninvasive and/or invasive recordings of the zone of seizure onset and persistent interictal activity), was intended. Complications were encountered in 11 cases (8%). However, no patient died and there was no permanent morbidity. Of the 124 patients who had postoperative follow-up examinations more than 6 months after resection, 71% were seizure-free, 11% had no more than two seizures per year, 13% showed a reduction of seizure frequency of at least 75%, and 5% had no appreciable reduction in seizure frequency.
Conclusion: The data indicate that neoplasms associated with medically intractable epilepsy constitute a distinct clinicopathological group of tumors that arise in young hosts, involve the cortex, and exhibit indolent biological behavior for many years. Complete surgical removal of these tumors, including the epileptogenic area, can achieve excellent seizure control.