The role of epilepsy surgery in southern Africa
Epilepsy surgery plays an important role in the management of patients with medically refractory temporal lobe epilepsy and lesional epilepsies. When performed early in the course of the illness, surgery can render many patients seizure-free and greatly improve their quality of life. In southern Africa, as in many developing nations, thousands of patients could benefit from epilepsy surgery, but inequalities in healthcare provision mean that ready access to surgical facilities is largely restricted to those with private healthcare insurance. Over the past 5 years, more than 250 patients have had epilepsy surgery in Cape Town; the cause of epilepsy in six of these individuals was neurocysticercosis resulting from central nervous system infection by the larval stage of the pork tapeworm (Taenia solium), which is a common cause of epilepsy in the tropics. In all cases, surgery was successful, with patients becoming seizure-free and reporting a much improved quality of life. © Blackwell Munksgaard 2005.