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What is a Temporal Lobectomy?

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning

Temporal lobectomy is a type of brain surgery. During the procedure, part of the temporal lobe is removed. The surgery is commonly used to treat patients who suffer from severe epileptic seizures. After the procedure, most patients are still given medication to control symptoms though it may be eventually discontinued, depending on the success of the surgery.

To begin the procedure, a small patch of hair is shaved from the patient’s head and a portion of the skull is sawed clear and removed. Then the surgeon will cut into a membrane, known as the dura matter. When this is cleared, the temporal lobe will be accessible. Then a small part of the lobe is removed, usually via suction. The amount of lobe removed depends on surgeon discretion.

Part of the temporal lobe is removed during a temporal lobectomy.
Part of the temporal lobe is removed during a temporal lobectomy.

In order to finish a temporal lobectomy, the portion of removed skull is wired back into the skull. Eventually, the skull will heal via calcification. Fluid will move in to fill the now permanently empty space left by the removal of the piece of brain.

The entire process can take anywhere from four to eight hours, including the patient’s time in the recovery room. Actual time in surgery is usually about two to three hours. Patients tend to remain in the hospital from about three days to a week after the procedure. Full recovery typically takes a month, though some patients can require two to three times as many months to return to full functionality.

In the days immediately following a temporal lobectomy, many patients will experience disorientation. Swelling and bruising around the site of procedure and headaches are also common. Other side effects, such as nausea and sore throat, tend to be the result of elements such as medication or breathing tubes.

Many patients will experience mild loss of mental or motor function after the surgery. There may also be a recurrence of seizures, though these can often subside once the brain has healed. Some of the more severe side effects of temporal lobectomy include partial vision loss, depression, psychosis, stroke, a change in personality, or serious problems with speech. These symptoms should receive immediate medical attention.

Temporal lobectomy tends to have a high level of success, with most patients no longer suffering seizures that lead to abnormal movements or loss of consciousness. Other patients often notice at least an improvement in control over epileptic symptoms. Many patients will continue to experience mild symptoms such as odors without an apparent source and auras.

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    • Part of the temporal lobe is removed during a temporal lobectomy.
      By: Karen Roach
      Part of the temporal lobe is removed during a temporal lobectomy.