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Cognitive decline and quality of life after resective epilepsy surgery. Epilepsy Behav 2023 Jan;138:109005



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85143982821 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)


OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to examine the association between cognitive decline and quality of life (QoL) change in a large sample of individuals with drug-resistant epilepsy who underwent resective surgery and to examine whether the association between cognitive decline and QoL is differentially affected by seizure classification outcome (Engel Class 1 vs. 2-4) or side of surgery (left vs. right hemisphere).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The sample comprised 224 adults (ages ≥ 18) with drug-resistant focal epilepsy treated with resective surgery who underwent comprehensive pre-operative and post-operative evaluations including neuropsychological testing and the Quality of Life in Epilepsy Inventory - 31 between 1991 and 2020. Linear mixed-effects models were fit to examine subject-specific trajectories and assess the effects of time (pre- to post-operative), cognitive decline (number of measures that meaningfully declined), and the interaction between time and cognitive decline on pre- to post-operative change in QoL.

RESULTS: Increases in QoL following resection were observed (B = -10.72 [SE = 1.22], p < .001; mean difference between time point 1 and time point 2 QoL rating = 8.11). There was also a main effect of cognitive decline on QoL (B = -.85 [SE = .27], p = .002). Follow-up analyses showed that the number of cognitive measures that declined was significantly associated with post-surgical QoL, (r = -.20 p = .003), but not pre-surgical QoL, (r = -.04 p = .594), and with pre-to post-surgery raw change in QoL score, (r = -.18 p = .009). A cognitive decline by time point interaction was observed, such that those who had greater cognitive decline had less improvement in overall QoL following resection (B = .72 [SE = .27], p = .009). Similar results were observed within the Engel Class 1 outcome subgroup. However, within the Engel Class 2-4 outcome subgroup, QoL improved following resection, but there was no main effect of cognitive decline or interaction between cognitive decline and time point on QoL change. There was no main effect of resection hemisphere on overall QoL, nor were there interactions with hemisphere by time, hemisphere by cognitive decline, or hemisphere by time by cognitive decline.

CONCLUSIONS: Quality of life improves following epilepsy surgery. Participants who had cognitive decline across a greater number of measures experienced less improvement in QoL post-operatively overall, but there was no clear pattern of domain-specific cognitive decline associated with change in QoL. Our results indicate that cognitive decline in a diffuse set of cognitive domains negatively influences post-operative QoL, particularly for those who experience good seizure outcomes (i.e., seizure freedom), regardless of the site or side of resection.

Author List

Janecek JK, Brett BL, Pillay S, Murphy H, Binder JR, Swanson SJ


Jeffrey R. Binder MD Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Benjamin Brett PhD Assistant Professor in the Neurosurgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Sara B. Pillay PhD Assistant Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Sara J. Swanson PhD Chief, Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Cognitive Dysfunction
Drug Resistant Epilepsy
Quality of Life
Treatment Outcome