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The corpus callosum is an area just under the cerebral cortex that connects the left and right side of the brain. This bundle of tissue is the brain’s superhighway, allowing information to travel from the left hemisphere to the right hemisphere. The communication between the two hemispheres helps to coordinate a person’s movement or complex thought.
When abnormal electrical activity spreads through the corpus callosum, children may experience generalized seizures and drop attacks, or a sudden loss of physical control that causes a child to fall. A corpus callosotomy is a surgery that severs portions of the corpus callosum to prevent the spread of abnormal electrical activity from one side of the brain to the other.
- Is my child a candidate?
- What testing is needed before surgery?
- How is the surgery performed?
- What are the results of the surgery?
- Your child may be a candidate for corpus callosotomy if they experience generalized seizures that are not controlled by medication.
- Before surgery, the exact location of the brain where the seizures originate from will need to be identified. This may involve:
- MRI: An MRI uses large magnets, radio waves and a computer to make images of the inside of the body.
- CT scan: This test uses a series of X-rays and a computer to create images of the inside of the body. A CT scan shows more detail than a regular X-ray.
- EEG (outpatient): This test records the brain's electrical activity through sticky pads (electrodes) attached to the scalp.
- EEG (inpatient): Some patients may require a longer EEG to record electrical activity, in which case a stay in the epilepsy monitoring unit will be required.
- MEG scan: MEG, or magnetoencephalography, is a noninvasive test used to localize seizures and abnormal activity within the brain using magnetic sensors. MEG can also be used to localize areas of the brain that control motor, sensory and language.
- A corpus callosotomy is performed by a team of highly trained neurosurgeons and clinical staff. Your child will first be placed under general anesthesia in a pre-operative room. They will then be taken into the operating room. Surgeons will make an incision and perform a craniotomy where a small portion of the skull is removed. After the surgeons have access to the brain, they will gently shift the nondominant side of the brain to allow them access to the corpus callosotomy. Using precise surgical tools, your surgeon will carefully sever portions of the corpus callosotomy. After this is completed, the team will replace the skull and sew up the incision and your child will be transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit where they will be monitored for two to three days.
- Complications can happen during any surgery and there is no cure for epilepsy. Following surgery, a patient may experience weakness on one side of the body but after a few weeks strength and ability is likely to return. While a corpus callosotomy has proven effective for preventing generalized seizures, it will not prevent localized seizures.