Rates and predictors of success and failure in repeat epilepsy surgery: A meta-analysis and systematic review



Medically refractory epilepsy is a debilitating disorder that is particularly challenging to treat in patients who have already failed a surgical resection. Evidence regarding outcomes of further epilepsy surgery is limited to small case series and reviews. Therefore, our group performed the first quantitative meta-analysis of the literature from the past 30 years to assess for rates and predictors of successful reoperations.


A PubMed search was conducted for studies reporting outcomes of repeat epilepsy surgery. Studies were excluded if they reported fewer than five eligible patients or had average follow-ups < 1 year, and patients were excluded from analysis if they received a nonresective intervention. Outcomes were stratified by each variable of interest, and quantitative meta-analysis was performed to generate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


Seven hundred eighty-two patients who received repeat resective epilepsy surgery from 36 studies were included. Engel I outcome was observed in 47% (n = 369) of patients. Significant predictors of seizure freedom included congruent over noncongruent electrophysiology data (OR = 3.6, 95% CI = 1.6–8.2), lesional over nonlesional epilepsy (OR = 3.2, 95% CI = 1.9–5.3), and surgical limitations over disease-related factors associated with failure of the first surgery (OR = 2.6, 95% CI = 1.3–5.3). Among patients with at least one of these predictors, seizure freedom was achieved in 58%. Conversely, the use of invasive monitoring was associated with worse outcome (OR = 0.4, 95% CI = 0.2–0.9). Temporal lobe over extratemporal/multilobe resection (OR = 1.5, 95% CI = 0.8–3.0) and abnormal over normal preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (OR = 1.9, 95% CI = 0.6–5.4) showed nonsignificant trends toward seizure freedom.


This analysis supports considering further resection in patients with intractable epilepsy who continue to have debilitating seizures after an initial surgery, especially in the context of factors predictive of a favorable outcome.