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What is disconnection surgery?

One type of surgical treatment for epilepsy is disconnection surgery. During the procedure, your surgeon cuts nerve fibers to interrupt the spread of seizures from hemisphere to hemisphere within your brain. Disconnection surgery does not usually stop seizures completely, but often lessens their severity.

Why it's done

Disconnection surgery is often performed only on patients who have the most serious and uncontrollable type of seizure, called a drop attack. Surgery is considered if anti-seizure medications aren’t adequately successful in preventing seizures.

Our approach

The Epilepsy Center at the Northwell Health Institute for Neurology and Neurosurgery offers a variety of medical and surgical treatment options to control and prevent seizures. Our multidisciplinary team offers leading-edge treatments including disconnection surgery. The expert team at the Epilepsy Center performs between 50 and 100 epilepsy surgeries each year, and 90 percent of patients are either seizure-free or have reduced seizures one year after surgery.

Complications

As with any surgery, there are general risks with disconnection surgery, including:

  • Blood clots
  • Blood loss
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • A reaction to medication

Recovery

Following disconnection surgery, you will typically stay in the hospital for two to four days. Most patients are able to return to normal activities within six to eight weeks.

Long-term care

Although the surgery should help minimize your seizures, you will have to continue to take anti-seizure medication prescribed by your doctor.

Potential side effects

There are side effects that may occur after the surgical procedure, including:

  • Scalp numbness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Loss of memory
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