Palliative means relief from symptoms and stress of an illness. This surgery may lower the number and severity of seizures. It is usually not a cure for epilepsy. This type of surgery is used for many types of epilepsy. It is used most when seizures come from more than one area of the brain or when another type of surgery would likely lead to loss of brain function. There are two types of palliative epilepsy surgery.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

A doctor puts a small electrical generator under the skin in the chest. A wire is attached to the vagus nerve, which is in the neck. The wire stimulates the vagus nerve on a set schedule. The surgery usually takes 1 or 2 hours and your child will go home after staying in the hospital one night. General anesthesia is given for the surgery. Your child will be able to do normal activities 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. This surgery helps (usually reduces seizures but not completely stop it) over half of the people that have it.

Corpus Callosotomy

The corpus callosum is the part of the brain that connects the two sides. A doctor will cut this connection and this will prevent seizures on one side of the brain from moving to the other side. It usually does not totally stop seizures but makes them less severe. This surgery takes a few hours. After that, your child will stay in the hospital for 4-5 days and may need inpatient rehabilitation. Recovery at home will take 4-6 weeks.

This surgery is most helpful for people who have: 

  • Seizures that start on both sides of the brain (severe generalized epilepsy)
  • A loss of strength that causes a person to fall down (atonic seizures or drop attacks)

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