A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Fall, 2016 | Number 4, Volume 30

Individuals with autism are good candidates for epilepsy surgery

A new study reports that “epilepsy surgery in patients with autism is feasible, with no indication that the comorbidity of autism should preclude a good outcome.” 

In the study, M. A. Kokoszka and colleagues analyzed the medical records of 56 consecutive patients with autism who underwent epilepsy surgery. Of these patients, 45 were severely autistic, 27 had significant aggressive or disruptive behaviors, and 30 were nonverbal. In 32 cases, the causes of the epilepsy were known; these causes included structural lesions, medical problems, and developmental and genetic issues. 

Twenty-nine of the patients underwent respective treatments, 24 had palliative treatments, and three solely underwent diagnostic subdural electroencephalography. Eighteen patients required more than one surgery. 

The researchers followed up with the patients an average of four years later. Three of the patients no longer needed any antiepileptic drugs, and 24 exhibited reductions in aggression and other aberrant behaviors. Caregivers also reported that most of the patients exhibited improved social and cognitive function. Three patients showed no functional or behavioral changes, while two exhibited worsening seizures and behavioral symptoms. 

The researchers note, “The reduction in aberrant behaviors observed in this series suggests that some behaviors previously attributed to autism may be associated with intractable epilepsy, and further highlights the need for systematic evaluation of the relationship between the symptoms of autism and refractory seizures.”


“Epilepsy surgery in patients with autism,” M. A. Kokoszka, P. E. McGoldrick, M. La VegaTalbott, H. Raynes, C. A. Palmese, S. M. Wolf, C. L. Harden, and S. Ghatan, Journal of Neurosurgery—Pediatrics, November 25, 2016 (epub prior to print publication). Address: Saadi Ghatan, Department of Neurosurgery, Mount Sinai West, 1000 Tenth Ave., Ste. 5G-80, New York, NY 10019, [email protected].