Epilepsy Center

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#11 in the Nation
by U.S. News & World Report

Focal Resection

Focal resection is a surgery to remove the portion of the brain responsible for seizures. While an entire lobe of the brain can be removed during surgery, focal resection typically involves removal of small parts of one lobe. 

While it is a big decision to remove a part of the brain, the risk of complications is very low. The neurologists and neurosurgeons at Barnes-Jewish & Washington University Comprehensive Epilepsy Center have extensive expertise in evaluating patients and have performed epilepsy surgery in hundreds of cases.

How Is Focal Resection Helpful?

When epilepsy patients do not respond to anti-epileptic medication or other treatment options, focal cortical resection may provide relief from seizures. Using advanced brain imaging and EEG testing, neurologists can determine where in the brain a patient’s seizures are originating. If all of the seizures are coming from a specific area in the brain, removal of that portion of the brain may provide seizure relief for the patient.

The most common area of the brain for epilepsy surgery is the temporal lobe. Depending on the patient, removal of specific brain structures (hippocampus, amygdala) or entire lobes of the brain may be necessary.

It is important to remember that the part of the brain causing seizures is already damaged and interfering with normal brain activity. Removal of this tissue often does not cause any significant loss of function and can sometimes result in improved function, especially if seizures become better controlled after surgery.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Surgery?

Since removal of a part of the brain is irreversible, the utmost care is taken in avoiding permanent neurologic problems after epilepsy surgery. Therefore, not all epilepsy patients are suitable for a focal cortical resection. If seizures are originating from more than one area of the brain, or from an area that is too close to essential brain tissue, other treatment options likely will be considered.

The neurologists and neurosurgeons at the Barnes-Jewish & Washington University Comprehensive Epilepsy Center work together to determine the best recommendation for each patient’s individual situation. Our advanced brain imaging options make it possible to precisely locate seizure focal areas before and during surgery, resulting in the best outcomes for our patients.

For a referral to a Washington University neurologist or neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call .

Epilepsy Patient, Neurosurgeon

Clint McMurphy from Makanda, IL was diagnosed with grand mal seizures and epilepsy at the age of 3. His doctors had it under control with medication most of his life, but by the time Clint was in his upper 20s, the seizures became uncontrollable, often making him lose consciousness.

Neurosurgeon Eric Leuthardt, MD, performed a focal resection, removing the tissue from Clint’s left temporal lobe that was responsible for epileptic seizures.

Learn more about Clint or see more patient stories.


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