Researchers at the University of Exeter have developed an advanced computer model that can identify where in the brain epileptic seizures originate. It can also distinguish, with high accuracy, between the source of a person’s seizures and brain regions that become involved as a result of the seizure starting.This technique could help epilepsy surgeons to identify more accurately the region(s) of the brain that should be removed, and significantly improve outcomes.The work is published in the journal Scientific Reports.In a press release, Senior Author, Professor John Terry, said: “This research has the potential to dramatically improve surgical success rates for those patients who need it, and so also dramatically improve their quality of life.”The potential is truly outstanding. It gives surgeons valuable information on how different brain regions contribute to seizures, enabling them to predict the outcome of different surgical strategies and so better plan surgery.”Testing the modelThe researchers tested the model using EEG recordings from 16 people with epilepsy, who had already undergone surgery. The recordings came from both before and after their operations. The scientists ran their model on the ‘before surgery’ readings to see if it could ‘predict’ which areas (if removed) would have produced the most effective results. They then used the ‘after surgery’ recordings to look at the subjects’ actual outcomes. They were interested in finding out whether people with a positive outcome had had an area ‘predicted’ by the model removed, and whether removal of a ‘non-predicted region’ was, in turn, associated with a more negative result.ResultsThe team discovered that, in people who responded well to surgery, the brain region that had been removed during surgery was among the regions predicted by the model. Furthermore, it was found that people who responded less well had not had a region predicted by the model removed. These finding suggest that the model has real potential for surgery planning and giving people the best outcomes.SignificanceThese results are very exciting, and First Author, Dr Marc Goodfellow, commented: “We were able to compare, for the first time, predictions made by a computer model applied to pre-surgical brain recordings with the post-surgical outcomes from a group of people with epilepsy. We saw a very good agreement between the outcome predicted by our model with the actual outcome achieved through surgery.”The potential for future treatment is clear – we are looking at a more accurate way of identifying exactly where to operate to give the best results for an individual, and so improve the lives of so many people who would otherwise have to live with the constant threat of seizures.”BackgroundCurrently, people with epilepsy are treated initially with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). However in about a third of cases, these prove ineffective in eliminating or even reducing seizures. Some people with epilepsy who do not respond to AEDs are eligible for surgery to remove small parts of the brain, which may help reduce the occurrence of seizure. Being able to identify the exact region of the brain that is responsible for generating seizures would help to increase the success rate of surgery and improve the quality of life of people with epilepsy.Click here for more articles about other treatments for epilepsy.