Epilepsy is a disorder affecting more than 2 million people worldwide and is caused by abnormal surges in the electrical circuits of the brain that result in seizures. More than half of those with epilepsy can live seizure-free by taking medications.
But now a new study is under way to determine just how effective surgery is compared to drug therapy when treating those with temporal lobe epilepsy, the most common form of the disorder.
Typically, about 80 percent of people who have this type of epilepsy, will be completely free of all seizures after the surgery say doctors.
Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the trial study will offer half of the 200 participants brain surgery, while the remaining 100 will continue on medications. Both groups then will be monitored for two years to determine which treatment is more effective at eliminating seizures and improving quality of life.
Participants will be people who have had seizures for no more than 2 years and are unable to bring them under control with medications.
Most people spend more than a decade trying different drugs before considering surgery. For some patients , the surgery provided a way to get their epilepsy under control. Not all patients respond as well to the surgery, and doctors warn the procedure is not for everyone.
"There is approximately a 1 percent risk of significant disability due to stroke, bleeding or other complications when we look at a large series of patients," say doctors.