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Brain

Understanding Corpus Callosotomy Surgery: The Benefits And Risks

A Gillette patient opens a toy.

For children with epilepsy, corpus callosotomy surgery is a way to reduce or eliminate seizures. This type of brain surgery for epilepsy can be incredibly beneficial; however, like all surgeries, there are some risks involved. Gillette Children’s will provide you with all of the information you need so that you can make the right choice for your family. 

So, what is corpus callosotomy surgery? It is a surgical treatment that addresses recurrent seizures. After a band of nerve fibers, called the corpus callosum, is cut, seizure signals between the two halves of the brain can no longer be transmitted. For children with partial or focal seizures, corpus callosotomy surgery may not make the most sense as seizures are already developing in a small part of the brain. 

Understandably, this is a surgery that can leave both parents and children on edge. The experts at Gillette Children’s are here to address your concerns, answer your questions and put your worries at ease. Together we can determine whether or not brain surgery for epilepsy is the right thing to do.  

A Better Quality Of Life Can Be Achievable 

Brain surgery for epilepsy addresses one major question: does it stop seizures? The answer is: sometimes. While a seizure can still occur on one side of the brain, it is less severe because it only stays on that half of the brain.  

In general, 50%-75% of children see a reduction in how often they have a seizure. Roughly one in five children are seizure-free, post-surgery. There are a number of factors that influence its success rate, and your child’s provider will talk more about this with you. 

The biggest benefit to brain surgery for epilepsy is the fact that it can improve your child’s quality of life. An atonic seizure can cause serious injuries, such as broken bones and concussions. Temporarily losing muscle strength can also be frustrating. A corpus callosotomy surgery is a great way to address these concerns. 

A Gillette patient visits his doctor.

Potential Concerns Associated With Corpus Callosotomy Surgery 

While there are many advantages to brain surgery for epilepsy, your child’s provider will also discuss the potential risks. While not all the nerves between both sides of the brain are cut, it still has an impact on other areas of the body. During recovery, your child may experience fatigue, memory problems and speech complications. It can take some time for these things to come back. Smiling, for example, is something that they may have to re-learn how to do. Our team of physical therapists will help them through this. 

Disconnection syndrome is a common issue we see after brain surgery for epilepsy, as well. Because the two sides of the brain are no longer completely connected, it may become difficult to perform simple tasks. This can also lead to problems with your child’s coordination and balance. In certain cases, swelling of the brain and strokes have been reported. This can lead to slurred speech and blurred vision. 

Gillette Children’s Has Been Performing Brain Surgery For Epilepsy Patients For Decades 

Each child’s case is unique, which is why having an in-depth discussion with your provider is imperative. After a comprehensive assessment and many conversations with your child’s care team, we can decide which steps are the right ones to take.  

Come prepared with questions. Write down anything you don’t want to forget. Never hesitate to reach out to anyone on our team. We are experts who specialize in neurosurgery and want to provide your family with the best possible care, every step of the way.

A Gillette patient with epilepsy rides his bike. 

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