Epilepsy disproportionately affects low- and/or middle-income countries (LMICs). Surgical treatments for epilepsy are potentially curative and cost-effective and may improve quality of life and reduce social stigmas. In the current study, the authors estimate the potential need for a surgical epilepsy program in Haiti by applying contemporary epilepsy surgery referral guidelines to a population of children assessed at the Clinique d’Épilepsie de Port-au-Prince (CLIDEP).
The authors reviewed 812 pediatric patient records from the CLIDEP, the only pediatric epilepsy referral center in Haiti. Clinical covariates and seizure outcomes were extracted from digitized charts. Electroencephalography (EEG) and neuroimaging reports were further analyzed to determine the prevalence of focal epilepsy or surgically amenable syndromes and to assess the lesional causes of epilepsy in Haiti. Lastly, the toolsforepilepsy instrument was applied to determine the proportion of patients who met the criteria for epilepsy surgery referral.
Two-thirds of the patients at CLIDEP (543/812) were determined to have epilepsy based on clinical and diagnostic evaluations. Most of them (82%, 444/543) had been evaluated with interictal EEG, 88% of whom (391/444) had abnormal findings. The most common finding was a unilateral focal abnormality (32%, 125/391). Neuroimaging, a prerequisite for applying the epilepsy surgery referral criteria, had been performed in only 58 patients in the entire CLIDEP cohort, 39 of whom were eventually diagnosed with epilepsy. Two-thirds (26/39) of those patients had abnormal findings on neuroimaging. Most patients (55%, 18/33) assessed with the toolsforepilepsy application met the criteria for epilepsy surgery referral.
The authors’ findings suggest that many children with epilepsy in Haiti could benefit from being evaluated at a center with the capacity to perform basic brain imaging and neurosurgical treatments.