Why Remove Half A Brain?

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND-Epilepsy is a general term for a group of disorders that feature recurrent seizures. Seizures are sudden abnormal electrical firings in the brain. Seizures can lead to violent erratic spasms (convulsions ) of the muscles of the body as well as altered consciousness.

Some children with severe forms of epilepsy can have many seizure episodes daily. There lives can be affected by body movement difficulties, medications, impaired intellectual function, and dependency upon family and caregivers.

In the past thirty years at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, 58 children with severe epilepsy had half of their brains surgically removed in order to eliminate the misfiring areas. The results of these operations were reported by Eileen P. G. Vining M.D. and colleagues in an article in PEDIATRICS (1997;100:163-171).

The removal of the diseased half of the brain (medically termed hemispherectomy) of these children with intractable, recurrent seizures was successful, in terms of seizure relief, for over 2/3 of the patients.