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Brain surgery for relief from epilepsy

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Buffalo: Brain surgery for relief from epilepsy
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Epilepsy causes seizures. Imagine your only relief option was to have a part of your brain removed. In today's Healthy Living, Marcie Fraser explores a type of brain surgery giving epileptics relief.


Imagine going through life suffering from seizures. Drugs don't work and your only option was brain surgery - would you get it?

For the last 50 years, Barb Strait has suffered from seizures. Seizures can be caused by an injury to the brain.

“The brain is an electrical organ, any misfiring or electrical misfiring can cause a loss of awareness, a loss of consciousness," said Dr. Anthony Ritaccio, a neurologist.

Forty percent of patients like Barb get no relief from anti-seizure medication, but some patients are candidates for a type of brain surgery called a partial temporal lobectomy, where part of the brain causing the seizures is removed. There is a risk of memory loss.

It can take up to a year to determine if a patient is a good candidate for the surgery.

“We put these people through very extensive work ups, neuro-psychological batteries, advance imaging, advanced brain mapping," said Dr. Ritaccio.

The surgical team is made up of many experts.

Most patients who get the surgery are in and out of the hospital in four days. Barbara was told by the surgeons she might not recognize anyone when she woke up.

"I can remember opening my eyes and looking around and being able to recognize everyone, which was great," said Barbara.

She did suffer terrible headaches for a month and has had some short term memory loss, but it was worth it. It's been five years since she’s had a seizure, being seizure free for Barb simply means more freedom.

At age 61 she got her first drivers license.

"Seventy percent can be rendered seizure free the day after surgery! No seizures. Bo drugs. No doctors," said Dr. Ritaccio.

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