Epilepsy surgery, antiepileptic drug trials, and the role of evidence

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Objective: We assessed whether recent randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are informed by evidence about surgical effectiveness. We explored whether RCTs of AEDs consider the patients' candidacy for surgery in their eligibility criteria, and whether the necessary investigations are requested in participating patients to determine their potential eligibility for surgery. Methods: We systematically analyzed RCTs published in the last 2 years investigating the efficacy of new AEDs in localization-related epilepsy. Results from a surgical RCT and recommendations from an epilepsy surgery practice parameter were used to assess the degree to which surgical evidence informed the drug study design. Results: Eleven RCTs were analyzed. All were conducted in countries with access to epilepsy surgery. None of the studies required magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with an epilepsy protocol or explicit statement of the epilepsy syndrome, which could lead to the identification of surgical candidates. Having temporal lobe epilepsy or being a potential surgical candidate were not exclusion criteria in any of the trials. The primary efficacy end point was the reduction in seizure frequency or responder rate. Seizure freedom was never the primary outcome, and it was reported in only seven studies. The pooled data analysis of these trials revealed that 1.9% of patients became seizure-free on placebo and 4.4% on the study drug (p < 0.01). Conclusions: Important aspects of patient selection for new AED trials are not informed by the evidence about surgical effectiveness. Investigations that could lead to identification of patients for presurgical evaluation were not required in any of the studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1009
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 21 2010



  • Epilepsy treatment
  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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