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Surgical management of hypothalamic hamartomas in patients with gelastic epilepsy

Bassam Addas, Elisabeth M. S. Sherman, and Walter J. Hader

Gelastic epilepsy (GE) associated with hypothalamic hamartomas (HHs) is now a well-characterized clinical syndrome consisting of gelastic seizures starting in infancy, medically refractory seizures with or without the development of multiple seizure types, and behavioral and cognitive decline. It has been postulated that the development of the HH-GE syndrome is a result of a progressive epileptic encephalopathy or secondary epileptogenesis, which is potentially reversible with treatment of the HH. A variety of surgical options for the treatment of HHs exist, including open and endoscopic procedures, radiosurgery, interstitial radiotherapy, and stereotactic radiofrequency thermocoagulation. Surgical treatment can result in seizure freedom in up to 50% of patients and can be accompanied by significant improvements in behavior, cognition, and quality of life. Partial treatment of HHs may be sufficient to reduce seizure frequency and improve behavior and quality of life with less risk. A component of reversible cognitive dysfunction may be present in some patients with an HH-GE syndrome.