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Surgery for epilepsy outshines medication

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9:59am, August 1, 2001

People with severe epilepsy who undergo brain surgery have markedly fewer disabling seizures during the following year than those relying on medication do, a study finds.

Epilepsy patients become candidates for surgery when the effectiveness of their epilepsy medication diminishes greatly. Roughly 400,000 to 600,000 people in the United States have reached such a state, known as intractable epilepsy. The patients usually endure this chronic condition for decades before being referred for surgery, says study coauthor Samuel Wiebe, a neuroscientist at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.

At the university's London Health Sciences Centre, Wiebe and his colleagues randomly assigned 40 patients with intractable epilepsy to undergo surgery and continue receiving epilepsy medication. Forty others got medicine only.

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