Five lakh patients added every year in India: neurosurgeon

People who suffer from frequent episodes of seizures and do not get relief from medication, can now look to leading a much better quality of life, thanks to advances in imaging technology and dexterity of surgeons.

Epilepsy is a common neurological condition and mostly seen in children. It also affects adults. Fits or seizures are usually caused due to some structural abnormality/ lesion/ scar or a tumour in the brain. While seizures could be controlled through medicines in about 70 per cent of the patients, surgery would help to curb them in most others, according to neurosurgeons.

Doctors Manas Panigrahi, Sita Jayalakshmi and Devashish Ruikar, who comprise the epilepsy surgeons’ team at the Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) here, said that patients in more than 80 per cent of the cases they had operated upon were seizure-free now. However, surgery would be taken up only in patients who stand a good chance of becoming seizure-free. In children, surgery would be recommended only if the child had at least two seizures per month and had medication for more than two years.

Uncontrolled epilepsy in children affects their milestone development, IQ and scholastic performance and early surgery would not only improve the quality of life but also result in better IQ, memory function and milestone development.

Complicated procedure

Pointing out that it was a highly complicated procedure requiring precision, they, however, asserted that it was safe due to advances in neuro-imaging and surgical techniques. Early treatment would give better results.

Dr. Manas said that around five lakh epilepsy patients were added every year in India and at least 10 per cent (50,000) of them could be seizure-free.

However, only 300 surgeries were being performed per year in the country in five to six major centres. Although many hospitals have the equipment, the challenge was forming a good team comprising specialists from different disciplines.

While seizures involving jerks of hands or legs were more common, there were many other types including laughing or crying epilepsy (gelastic). Right diagnosis and treatment was crucial in such cases as many a time the patients were taken to psychiatrist thinking it was a psychological problem, they cautioned.

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