Overcoming Access Barriers to Epilepsy Surgery: Hai Sun, MD, PhD


The associate professor of neurosurgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School talked about the superiority of surgical treatment for certain types of epilepsy and the barriers patients face to access this treatment approach. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 5 minutes

"There are many different types of epilepsy and certain epilepsies are more responsive to surgical treatment than the others. For those [medically refractory] conditions, evidence has shown surgical treatment is far superior for rendering patients seizure free than medical treatment. However, despite this evidence, many patients don't get access to surgical treatment.

Treatment for patients with epilepsy often entails antiseizure medications, which require long-term commitment and patient compliance. Despite the accessibility of antiseizure medications to treat this patient population, approximately 30% of patients with epilepsy will still experience recurrent seizures and several even report unwanted adverse events.1 Thus, treatment for patients who are drug-resistant to antiseizure medications requires a multidisciplinary approach from the clinical viewpoint.

As techniques and devices improve, the prevalence of surgical treatment has increased for those patients who have medically refractory seizures, according to a paper published in Epilepsy Research and Treatment.1 Since surgical treatment is becoming more of option for this subset of patients, it is important for clinicians to conduct a complete evaluation to see whether a patient would qualify as a candidate for surgical intervention. In addition, monitoring the patient is an important component prior to the consideration of surgery for epilepsy in order to localize the seizure focus.

Hai Sun, MD, PhD, director of the epilepsy surgery service at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, recently sat down with NeurologyLive® in an interview to further discuss the prevalence of patients with medically refractory epilepsy. He also talked about some of the barriers for accessing surgical treatment in epilepsy care. Sun, who also serves as an associate professor of neurosurgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School,spoke about how interdisciplinary collaboration can enhance the safety and efficacy of epilepsy surgery.

1. Kelly KM, Chung SS. Surgical treatment for refractory epilepsy: review of patient evaluation and surgical options. Epilepsy Res Treat. 2011;2011:303624. doi:10.1155/2011/303624
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