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14 March 2016

Study analyses effect of AED changes on cognitive recovery after surgery for epilepsy

A study has shown that changes in drug prescriptions after epilepsy brain surgery were found to support post-operative recovery.

Scientists from the Department of Epileptology at Germany's University of Bonn have conducted a study into the effects of antiepileptic drug (AED) changes on cognitive recovery after epilepsy surgery.

Epilepsy surgery can cause cognitive decline as well as improvement, which has historically most often been attributed to seizure control.  The study was conducted to evaluate the impact of drug changes in the post-operative observation period on cognitive outcome one year after surgery.

Scientists analysed the cognition (executive functions, episodic memory) and mood of 116 epilepsy surgery patients according to whether their post-operative drug load had changed or whether the type of drug had been altered to minimise side effects.

Researchers found that before changes in drugs, 60 per cent of all subjects had some level of impairment in executive functions such as organisation and planning, 54 per cent in memory and 49 per cent in mood.

The study, published in Seizure Journal showed that executive functions changed significantly with altered drug load and that optimising drugs for side effects had some positive effect on postoperative memory and mood.

Executive functions, memory and mood improved in 22 per cent, 10 per cent and 32 per cent respectively and deteriorated in  15 per cent, 21 per cent and 11 per cent.

Researchers concluded that changes in AED prescriptions were relevant to cognitive outcome after surgery.  The changes in drug load and type were found to "significantly release cognitive functions thereby supporting recovery after epilepsy surgery."