Reasons for not having epilepsy surgery

Anthony Khoo*, Jane de Tisi, Shahidul Mannan, Aidan G. O'Keeffe, Josemir W. Sander, John S. Duncan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study was undertaken to determine reasons for adults with drug-resistant focal epilepsy who undergo presurgical evaluation not proceeding with surgery, and to identify predictors of this course. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed data on 617 consecutive individuals evaluated for epilepsy surgery at a tertiary referral center between January 2015 and December 2019. We compared the characteristics of those in whom a decision not to proceed with surgical treatment was made with those who underwent definitive surgery in the same period. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to identify predictors of not proceeding with surgery. Results: A decision not to proceed with surgery was reached in 315 (51%) of 617 individuals evaluated. Common reasons for this were an inability to localize the epileptogenic zone (n = 104) and the presence of multifocal epilepsy (n = 74). An individual choice not to proceed with intracranial electroencephalography (icEEG; n = 50) or surgery (n = 39), risk of significant deficit (n = 33), declining noninvasive investigation (n = 12), and coexisting neurological comorbidity (n = 3) accounted for the remainder. Compared to 166 surgically treated patients, those who did not proceed to surgery were more likely to have a learning disability (odds ratio [OR] = 2.35, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.07‒5.16), normal magnetic resonance imaging (OR = 4.48, 95% CI = 1.68–11.94), extratemporal epilepsy (OR = 2.93, 95% CI = 1.82‒4.71), bilateral seizure onset zones (OR = 3.05, 95% CI = 1.41‒6.61) and to live in more deprived socioeconomic areas (median deprivation decile = 40%–50% vs. 50%–60%, p <.05). Significance: Approximately half of those evaluated for surgical treatment of drug-resistant focal epilepsy do not proceed to surgery. Early consideration and discussion of the likelihood of surgical suitability or need for icEEG may help direct referral for presurgical evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the National Brain Appeal Small Acorns Fund.

Funding Information:
J.W.S. reports personal fees from Eisai, UCB Pharma, Arvelle, and Zogenix Pharma; and grants from Eisai, UCB Pharma, National Epilepsy Funds (the Netherlands), and National Institute for Health Research, outside the submitted work. None of the other authors has any conflict of interest to disclose. We confirm that we have read the Journal's position on issues involved in ethical publication and affirm that this report is consistent with those guidelines.

Funding Information:
This work was carried out at University College London Hospitals Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre, which receives a proportion of funding from the UK Department of Health's National Institute for Health Research Centres funding scheme. A.K. is supported by the RACP Foundation Margorie Hooper Scholarship. J.W.S. receives support from the Dr Marvin Weil Epilepsy Research Fund, UK Epilepsy Society, and Christelijke Vereniging voor de Verplegingvan Lijders aan Epilepsie (the Netherlands).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 International League Against Epilepsy


  • multidisciplinary team
  • outcome
  • presurgical evaluation
  • socioeconomic deprivation


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