Object. The authors describe patient characteristics, surgical methods, complications, and outcome over time in a cohort of patients who underwent multiple subpial transection (MST) without concomitant cortical resection.
Methods. Twenty consecutive patients in whom drug-resistant epilepsy had been diagnosed a mean of 16 ± 9 years earlier (mean ± standard deviation [SD]) were treated with MST without cortical resection. The mean follow-up period was 49.3 ± 18.3 months (mean ± SD, median 58 months). At 12 months of follow up, two of the 20 patients were Engel Class I, one was Class II, six were Class III, and 11 were Class IV. At latest follow up, one patient was Engel Class I, one was Class II, seven were Class III, and 11 were Class IV.
According to an alternative five-tiered classification system, two outcomes were excellent, seven were good, one was fair, nine were poor, and one was worse. Outcome was found to be better in patients with no lesions observed on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, and worse in those with large MST areas. Outcome had a tendency to change (this occurred in 13 of 20 cases). Five patients (25%) improved and seven (35%) deteriorated in Engel outcome class, and in one (5%) both developments occurred over time. Most outcome class changes occurred before the end of the 2nd year (nine), and four were observed in the 5th year. There where seven transient neurological deficits and four surgical complications. There was no permanent significant morbidity, and there were no deaths.
Conclusions. Forty-five percent of patients achieved a worthwhile improvement after pure MST, if Engel outcome Class III is deemed a worthwhile improvement. The alternative five-tiered classification resulted in 50% with worthwhile improvement (excellent, good, or fair outcome), 45% with poor, and 5% with worse outcome. Lesions that are detectable on MR imaging, and large MST areas are predictive of worse results. Significant intraoperative problems may arise, but this happens infrequently. There is a notable rate of transient morbidity but the rate of permanent morbidity is not significant.