Surgery an option for epilepsy patients resistant to drugs, say doctors

mumbai Updated: Nov 18, 2017 00:48 IST
Aayushi Pratap
Aayushi Pratap
Hindustan Times
epilepsy,drug-resistant epilepsy,medicine

As November is marked National Epilepsy Awareness Month, doctors said that awareness of drug resistant form of epilepsy among people is poor. (Picture for representation)

At two-and-half-years, Eashan Kolwalkar, now 13, a resident of Kalina, got his first seizure which lasted for over 30 minutes. Doctors diagnosed him with a neurological condition – epilepsy – and immediately put him on anti-epileptic medications. When four drugs in a row didn’t work, despite increasing the dosage, doctors knew it was a case of drug-resistant epilepsy.

As November is marked National Epilepsy Awareness Month, doctors said that awareness of drug resistant form of epilepsy among people is poor.

Eashan had four to five seizures a day, but there was no way to predict when he would have the next one, said his father, Yogesh Kolwalkar. “He would shiver, had very distinct facial expressions and would fall unconscious and pass urine.” he said. In Eashan’s case, he also had cerebral palsy, a brain disorder which affected his motor movements.

Doctors said that Eashan belongs to a group of 20% of epilepsy patients who have a drug resistant form of the condition. “Very early onset of the condition, structural defects in the brain, are usually the first signs that suggest that the condition could be drug resistant,” said Dr Vrajesh Udani, child neurologist at PD Hinduja Hospial, Mahim, who has been treating Eashan since he was three years old.

According to him, Eashan’s evaluation suggested that a surgery, which would disconnect a part of his left brain where the seizures originated, from the right side of his brain, may benefit him. A video electroencephalogram test recoded the electrical activity in the brain during, which showed all fits coming from the left side of the brain. “In epilepsy, a bunch of neurons start firing electrical signals together. After identifying the part of the brain where seizures originate, that part is either excised or disconnected from the other parts of the brain,” Dr Udani said.

While only one in 10 patients may be eligible for the surgery, 80% of them do not experience seizures after the surgery, said Dr Neelu Desai, city based paediatric neurologist.

Dr Sangeeta Rawat, neurologist, KEM Hospital, Parel, said along with the high cost of the surgery, shortage of expertise is another reason as to why parents of children who have drug resistant epilepsy don’t opt for a surgery.

First Published: Nov 18, 2017 00:46 IST