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Ching-Yi Lee, Han-Tao Li, Tony Wu, Mei-Yun Cheng, Siew-Na Lim and Shih-Tseng Lee

OBJECTIVE

Radiofrequency thermocoagulation (RFTC), which has been developed for drug-resistant epilepsy patients, involves less brain tissue loss due to surgery, fewer surgical adverse effects, and generally good seizure control. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of RFTC performed at limited hippocampal locations.

METHODS

Daily seizure diaries were prospectively maintained for at least 6 months by 9 patients (ages 30–59 years) with drug-resistant mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) before treatment with RFTC. The limited target for stereotactic RFTC was chosen based on intraoperative electroencephalography (EEG) recording and was initially tested with a Radionics electrode at a low temperature, 45°C, for 60 seconds. The therapeutic RFTC heating parameters were 78°C–80°C for 90 seconds. All patients who received the RFTC treatment underwent both MRI and EEG recording immediately postoperatively and at the 3-month follow-up. Monthly outpatient clinic visits were arranged over 6 months to document seizure frequency and severity to clarify the changes noted in imaging studies and EEG patterns.

RESULTS

Two patients were excluded from our analysis because one had undergone multiple seizure surgeries and the other had a poor recording of seizure frequency, before the RFTC surgery. Five and two patients underwent left-sided and right-sided RFTC, respectively. None of the patients had generalized tonic-clonic attacks postoperatively, and no adverse effects or complications occurred. According to MRI data, the effect of coagulation was limited to less than 1.0 cm in diameter and perifocal edema was also in limited range. The seizure frequency within 6 months decreased postoperatively with a mean reduction in seizures of 78% (range 36%–100%). Only two patients had a temporary increase in seizure frequency within 2 weeks of the surgery, and over 50% of all patients showed a decrease in average seizure frequency.

CONCLUSIONS

The study results confirm that limited RFTC provides a more effective surgery with similar seizure control but fewer complications than resective surgery for drug-resistant MTLE patients.