Uncontrolled epilepsy is associated with serious deleterious effects on the neurological development of infants and has been described as “catastrophic epilepsy.” Recently, there has been increased emphasis on early surgical interventions to preserve or rescue neurodevelopmental outcomes in infants with early intractable epilepsy. The enthusiasm for early treatments is often tempered by concerns regarding the morbidity of neurosurgical procedures in very young patients. Here, the authors report outcomes following the surgical management of infants (younger than 1 year).
The authors performed a retrospective review of patients younger than 1 year of age who underwent surgery for epilepsy at Miami (Nicklaus) Children’s Hospital and Jackson Memorial Hospital between 1994 and 2018. Patient demographics, including the type of interventions, were recorded. Seizure outcomes (at last follow-up and at 1 year postoperatively) as well as complications are reported.
Thirty-eight infants (median age 5.9 months) underwent a spectrum of surgical interventions, including hemispherectomy (n = 17), focal resection (n = 13), and multilobe resections (n = 8), with a mean follow-up duration of 9.1 years. Hemimegalencephaly and cortical dysplasia were the most commonly encountered pathologies. Surgery for catastrophic epilepsy resulted in complete resolution of seizures in 68% (n = 26) of patients, and 76% (n = 29) had a greater than 90% reduction in seizure frequency. Overall mortality and morbidity were 0% and 10%, respectively. The latter included infections (n = 2), infarct (n = 1), and immediate reoperation for seizures (n = 1).
Surgical intervention for catastrophic epilepsy in infants remains safe, efficacious, and durable. The authors’ work provides the longest follow-up of such a series on infants to date and compares favorably with previously published series.