Outcomes of epilepsy surgery in the older population: not too old, not too late

Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Rohin Singh, Veronica Parisi, Gregory A. Worrell, Kai J. Miller, W. Richard Marsh, Jamie J. Van Gompel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE The prevalence of epilepsy in the older adult population is increasing. While surgical intervention in younger patients is supported by level I evidence, the safety and efficacy of epilepsy surgery in older individuals is less well established. The aim of this study was to evaluate seizure freedom rates and surgical outcomes in older epilepsy patients. METHODS The authors’ institutional electronic database was queried for patients older than 50 who had undergone epilepsy surgery during 2002–2018. Cases were grouped into 50–59, 60–69, and 70+ years old. Seizure freedom at the last follow-up constituted the primary outcome of interest. The institutional analysis was supplemented by a literature review and meta-analysis (random effects model) of all published studies on this topic as well as by an analysis of complication rates, mortality rates, and cost data from a nationwide administrative database (Vizient Inc., years 2016–2019). RESULTS A total of 73 patients (n = 16 for 50–59 years, n = 47 for 60–69, and n = 10 for 70+) were treated at the authors’ institution. The median age was 63 years, and 66% of the patients were female. At a median follow-up of 24 months, seizure freedom was 73% for the overall cohort, 63% for the 50–59 group, 77% for the 60–69 group, and 70% for the 70+ group. The literature search identified 15 additional retrospective studies (474 cases). Temporal lobectomy was the most commonly performed procedure (73%), and mesial temporal sclerosis was the most common pathology (52%), followed by nonspecific gliosis (19%). The pooled mean follow-up was 39 months (range 6–114.8 months) with a pooled seizure freedom rate of 65% (95% CI 59%–72%). On multivariable meta-regression analysis, an older mean age at surgery (coefficient [coeff] 2.1, 95% CI 1.1–3.1, p < 0.001) and the presence of mesial temporal sclerosis (coeff 0.3, 95% CI 0.1–0.6, p = 0.015) were the most important predictors of seizure freedom. Finally, analysis of the Vizient database revealed mortality rates of 0.5%, 1.1%, and 9.6%; complication rates of 7.1%, 10.1%, and 17.3%; and mean hospital costs of $31,977, $34,586, and $40,153 for patients aged 50–59, 60–69, and 70+ years, respectively. CONCLUSIONS While seizure-free outcomes of epilepsy surgery are excellent, there is an expected increase in morbidity and mortality with increasing age. Findings in this study on the safety and efficacy of epilepsy surgery in the older population may serve as a useful guide during preoperative decision-making and patient counseling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1607-1616
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • amygdala
  • elderly
  • hippocampus
  • mesial temporal sclerosis
  • seizure freedom
  • temporal lobe epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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