How can surgery help my child’s epilepsy?

The aim of the surgery is to remove the underlying cause of the seizures and therefore cure the epilepsy. In some cases, however, it may only be possible to reduce the frequency of the seizures as the cause cannot totally be removed.

Why is my child being considered for surgery?

We usually recommend surgery for children with focal epilepsy whose life is being disrupted in a major way, despite using a range of anti-epileptic drugs. Therefore we will usually consider surgery after a few years of epilepsy. However, we may consider surgery where it is very clear at an early stage that seizures are particularly difficult. Due to modern methods of investigation, it is now possible to offer surgery much earlier in the course of the epilepsy and to younger children.
Children with focal epilepsy may have additional problems with learning and behaviour and/or special educational needs, and this may also contribute to a decision about surgery

How will the doctors decide whether an operation is suitable for my child?

Your child’s regular doctor should have already discussed the possibility of surgery being a treatment option for your child with you before referring to this service. Once the referral is received; a multi-disciplinary panel consisting of consultant neurologists, consultant neurosurgeon and epilepsy nurse specialists, and other members of the team, will review each child’s medical history in great detail, along with the consultant paediatrician or neurologist who made the referral.

Why have I been asked to attend this clinic?

Should your child be considered a potential candidate for surgery, you will be invited to attend an appointment at the Epilepsy Surgery Clinic. Your first appointment is likely to be held at the specialist centre most local to you, at Edinburgh, Dundee or Glasgow. Your appointment letter will tell you which clinic you are to go to and where. The purpose of this clinic visit is to meet the consultant neurologist and consultant neurosurgeon so they can review your child’s treatment and talk about any problems. They will also discuss the role of surgery with you and potential risks and side-effects. At this appointment, the surgeon will explain what operation is proposed, what it entails and the risks and benefits to you and your child. You will be able to ask the surgeon any questions you may have and discuss any concerns.
It may be that following this consultation, your child may need further investigations. These investigations involve outpatient and inpatient visits, to build up as full a picture as possible of your child’s seizures. These investigations may need to be carried out at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

Last Reviewed: 14/10/2015