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Taylor J. Abel, Emma Losito, George M. Ibrahim, Eishi Asano and James T. Rutka

Epileptic spasms (ES) are a common manifestation of intractable epilepsy in early life and can lead to devastating neurodevelopmental consequences. Epilepsy surgery for ES is challenging because of inherent difficulties in localizing the epileptogenic zone in affected infants and children. However, recent clinical series of resective neurosurgery for ES suggest that not only is surgery a viable option for appropriately selected patients, but postoperative seizure outcomes can be similar to those achieved in other types of focal epilepsy. Increased awareness of ES as a potentially focal epilepsy, along with advances in neuroimaging and invasive monitoring technologies, have led to the ability to surgically treat many patients with ES who were previously not considered surgical candidates. In this study, the authors review the current state of epilepsy surgery for ES. Specifically, they address how advances in neuroimaging and invasive monitoring have facilitated patient selection, presurgical evaluation, and ultimately, resection planning.

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Gregory W. Albert, George M. Ibrahim, Hiroshi Otsubo, Ayako Ochi, Cristina Y. Go, O. Carter Snead III, James M. Drake and James T. Rutka


Resective surgery is increasingly used in the management of pediatric epilepsy. Frequently, invasive monitoring with subdural electrodes is required to adequately map the epileptogenic focus. The risks of invasive monitoring include the need for 2 operations, infection, and CSF leak. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and outcomes of resective epilepsy surgery guided by magnetoencephalography (MEG) in children who would have otherwise been candidates for electrode implantation.


The authors reviewed the records of patients undergoing resective epilepsy surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children between 2001 and 2010. They identified cases in which resections were based on MEG data and no intracranial recordings were performed. Each patient's chart was reviewed for presentation, MRI findings, MEG findings, surgical procedure, pathology, and surgical outcome.


Sixteen patients qualified for the study. All patients had localized spike clusters on MEG and most had abnormal findings on MRI. Resection was carried out in each case based on the MEG data linked to neuronavigation and supplemented with intraoperative neuromonitoring. Overall, 62.5% of patients were seizure free following surgery, and 20% of patients experienced an improvement in seizures without attaining seizure freedom. In 2 cases, additional surgery was performed subsequently with intracranial monitoring in attempts to obtain seizure control.


MEG is a viable alternative to invasive monitoring with intracranial electrodes for planning of resective surgery in carefully selected pediatric patients with localization-related epilepsy. Good candidates for this approach include patients who have a well-delineated, localized spike cluster on MEG that is concordant with findings of other preoperative evaluations and patients with prior brain pathologies that make the implantation of subdural and depth electrodes somewhat problematic.

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George M. Ibrahim, Benjamin W. Barry, Aria Fallah, O. Carter Snead III, James M. Drake, James T. Rutka and Mark Bernstein

Epilepsy is a common childhood condition associated with a considerable medical and psychosocial burden. Children in whom medical treatment fails to reduce seizure burden represent an especially vulnerable patient population because prolonged, uncontrolled seizures are associated with poor developmental and neurocognitive outcomes. Surgical treatment in the form of cortical resection, functional disconnection, or neuromodulation may alleviate or significantly reduce the disease burden for a subset of these patients. However, there remains a dichotomy between the perceived benefits of surgery and the implementation of surgical strategies in the management of medically intractable epilepsy. The current paper presents an analysis of the bioethical implications of existing inequities in access to pediatric epilepsy surgery that result from inconsistent referral practices and discrepant evaluation techniques. The authors provide a basic bioethical framework composed of 5 primary expectations to inform public, institutional, and personal policies toward the provision of epilepsy surgery to afflicted children.