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Seizures and the Natural History of World Health Organization Grade II Gliomas: A Review

Smits, Anja MD, PhD; Duffau, Hugues MD, PhD

doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31820c3419
CNS University of Neurosurgery

OBJECTIVE: The majority of adults with low-grade gliomas have seizures. Despite the frequency of seizures as initial symptoms and symptoms of later disease, seizures in relation to the natural course of low-grade gliomas have received little attention.

METHODS: In this review, we provide an update of the literature on the prognostic impact of preoperative seizures and discuss the tumor- and treatment-related factors affecting seizure control at later stages of the disease.

RESULTS: Seizures occur most frequently at disease presentation and predict a more favorable outcome. Initial seizures are correlated with tumor location and possibly indirectly to the molecular profile of the tumor. About 50% of all patients with seizures at presentation continue to have seizures before surgery. Maximal tumor resection, including resection of epileptic foci, is a valuable strategy for improving seizure control. In addition, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, as single therapies or in combination with surgery, have shown beneficial effects in terms of seizure reduction. Recurrent seizures after macroscopically complete tumor resection may be a marker for accelerated tumor growth. Recurrent seizures after an initial transient stabilization after radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy may be a marker for anaplastic tumor transformation.

CONCLUSION: Preoperative seizures likely reflect, apart from tumor location, intrinsic tumor properties as well. Change in seizure control in individual patients is frequently associated with altered tumor behavior. Including seizures and seizure control as clinical parameters is recommended in future trials of low-grade gliomas to further establish the prognostic value of these symptoms and to identify the factors affecting seizure control.

*Department of Neuroscience and Neurology, Uppsala University, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden; ‡Department of Neurosurgery and INSERM U583, Institute of Neurosciences of Montpellier, Hôpital Gui de Chauliac, CHU de Montpellier, Montpellier, France

Received, February 2, 2010.

Accepted, October 27, 2010.

Correspondence: Anja Smits, MD, PhD, Department of Neuroscience, Neurology, Uppsala University, University Hospital, S-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden. E-mail:

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons