Low-Grade Gliomas

Volume 35 of the series Advances and Technical Standards in Neurosurgery pp 81-111

Seizures in patients with low-grade gliomas — incidence, pathogenesis, surgical management, and pharmacotherapy

  • D. KurzwellyAffiliated withSchwerpunkt Klinische Neuroonkologie, Neurologische Klinik, Universitätskliniken Bonn
  • , U. HerrlingerAffiliated withSchwerpunkt Klinische Neuroonkologie, Neurologische Klinik, Universitätskliniken Bonn
  • , M. SimonAffiliated withNeurochirurgische Klinik, Universitätskliniken Bonn

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Seizures complicate the clinical course of >80% of patients with low-grade gliomas. Patients with some tumor variants almost always have epilepsy. Diffuse low-grade gliomas (LGG) are believed to cause epilepsy through partial deafferentiation of nearby brain cortex (denervation hypersensitivity). Glioneural tumors may interfere with local neurotransmitter levels and are sometimes associated with structural abnormalities of the brain which may produce seizures. The severity of tumor associated epilepsy varies considerably between patients. Some cases may present with a first seizure. Others suffer from long-standing pharmacoresistant epilepsy.

Seizure control rates of >70–80% can be expected after complete tumor resections. Patients with drug-resistant epilepsy require a comprehensive preoperative epileptological work-up which may include the placement of subdural (and intraparenchymal) electrodes or intraoperative electrocorticography (ECoG) for the delineation of extratumoral seizure foci. Partial and subtotal tumor resections are helpful in selected cases, i.e. for gliomas involving the insula.

In one series, 40% of patients presented for surgery with uncontrolled seizures, i.e. medical therapy alone often fails to control tumor-related epilepsy. Use of the newer (second generation) non-enzyme inducing antiepileptic drugs (non-EIAED) is encouraged since they seem to have lesser interactions with other medications (e.g. chemotherapy). Chemotherapy and irradiation may have some minor beneficial effects on the patients’ seizure disorder.

Overall 60–70% of patients may experience recurrent epilepsy during longterm follow-up. Recurrent seizures (not infrequently heralding tumor recurrence) after surgery continue to pose significant clinical problems.


Low-grade glioma epilepsy surgery medical treatment