Patients with refractory epilepsy of operculoinsular origin are often denied potentially effective surgical treatment with operculoinsular cortectomy (also termed operculoinsulectomy) because of feared complications and the paucity of surgical series with a significant number of cases documenting seizure control outcome. The goal of this study was to document seizure control outcome after operculoinsular cortectomy in a group of patients investigated and treated by an epilepsy team with 20 years of experience with this specific technique.
Clinical, imaging, surgical, and seizure control outcome data of all patients who underwent surgery for refractory epilepsy requiring an operculoinsular cortectomy were retrospectively reviewed. Tumors and progressive encephalitis cases were excluded. Descriptive and uni- and multivariate analyses were done to determine seizure control outcome and predictors.
Forty-three patients with 44 operculoinsular cortectomies were studied. Kaplan-Meier estimates of complete seizure freedom (first seizure recurrence excluding auras) for years 0.5, 1, 2, and 5 were 70.2%, 70.2%, 65.0%, and 65.0%, respectively. With patients with more than 1 year of follow-up, seizure control outcome Engel class I was achieved in 76.9% (mean follow-up duration 5.8 years; range 1.25–20 years). With multivariate analysis, unfavorable seizure outcome predictors were frontal lobe–like seizure semiology, shorter duration of epilepsy, and the use of intracranial electrodes for invasive monitoring. Suspected causes of recurrent seizures were sparing of the language cortex part of the focus, subtotal resection of cortical dysplasia/polymicrogyria, bilateral epilepsy, and residual epileptic cortex with normal preoperative MRI studies (insula, frontal lobe, posterior parieto-temporal, orbitofrontal).
The surgical treatment of operculoinsular refractory epilepsy is as effective as epilepsy surgeries in other brain areas. These patients should be referred to centers with appropriate experience. A frontal lobe–like seizure semiology should command more sampling with invasive monitoring. Recordings with intracranial electrodes are not always required if the noninvasive investigation is conclusive. The complete resection of the epileptic zone is crucial to achieve good seizure control outcome.