Almost half of people with epilepsy who had surgery for the condition remained free of seizures 10 years later, according to a British study published Friday.
Researchers from University College London, who tracked 615 post-surgery epileptics annually over a period of eight years, found that 82 percent remained seizure-free for a year after surgery.
After five years, this fell to 52 percent, while 47 percent were still seizure-free after 10 years. No patient experienced a substantial worsening of their epilepsy following surgery.
Several different types of surgical procedures are used to treat epilepsy, but the most common treatment used on people in the study was temporal lobe surgery, which focuses on the part of the brain between the ear and the eye.
The study, published in health journal The Lancet, suggests that surgery could be an effective treatment for the third of epileptics who do not respond to medication, and researchers are calling on doctors to refer those patients for surgery sooner.
"This study validates the long-term effectiveness of epilepsy surgery, showing that over 50 percent of all patients are rendered continuously long-term seizure free," the authors said. "In view of the long-term results of surgery shown, clinical practice needs to change, with the early referral of appropriate patients."