Epilepsy surgery in children ‘helps with depression, anxiety’

Posted Dec 20 2013 in Epilepsy in children

Children’s mood and anxiety levels do not appear to be negatively affected – and may even be improved – by epilepsy surgery, according to new research.

The study, findings of which were presented at the American Epilepsy Society’s 67th Annual Meeting, made use of Cleveland Clinic’s large database of scores from neuropsychological tests conducted before and ten months after epilepsy surgery, reports Medscape Medical News.

More than 150 children with epilepsy aged from five to 16 years old were included in the report. Some 38 had left hemisphere temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), while 26 had right TLE, 17 had left frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) and 20 had right FLE.

Children with FLE typically had more anxiety, depression and behaviour-related issues than those with TLE before going in for surgery, but after this had been conducted, they tended to improve to a similar level as TLE patients.

A clinically significant upturn in postoperative mood was recorded by the researchers – one in five of the sample group reported an improvement in the symptoms of depression, for instance.

Among children who were depressed before having epilepsy surgery, approximately one-third still encountered problems with depression afterwards, but the remainder did not. Similar findings were recorded for anxiety, with 38 per cent of those involved seeing an improvement in their overall symptoms having had surgery.

Elizabeth Andresen, a postdoctoral fellow in neuropsychology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said the research provides “good, solid data” that children often do well from undergoing surgery for their epilepsy.

“They tend to be pretty happy afterwards and they tend to get better,” she explained. “There’s a small risk for decline and we’re looking into what might be risk factors for that, but overall, kids are doing the same or even better after surgery.”

However, some children fared worse post-surgery. Around six per cent developed new problems with depression, while 11 per cent found the same was true of anxiety.

Posted by Steve Long

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