Anterior Temporal Lobectomy
Why it is done?
This is surgery done by a neurosurgeon for
people who have seizures that are not
controlled well enough with medicine.
What is medically intractable epilepsy?
This refers to seizures that are not controlled
with medicine. This is often pointed out by
a doctor after having tried to treat the
seizures with a number of medicines.
How do I know if this surgery will help
There are several tests that are done to see if
this method of treatment is right for you.
Some of these tests include:
ξ Video/EEG monitoring in the hospital.
(see Health Facts for You #5480)
ξ Neuropsychological exam
ξ MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
(see Health Facts for You #4419)
ξ PET – Positron Emission Tomography
(see Health Facts for You #5599)
ξ WADA Test (a means for separately
testing each half of the brain for speech
and memory) Health Facts for You
After all the tests are over, your doctor will
present your case to the members of the
University of Wisconsin Comprehensive
Epilepsy Program. This is a team made up
of doctors, nurses, radiologists, and
technicians who are experts in treating
seizures. They will review your tests and
suggest the best treatment for you.
What do I do if surgery is recommended?
If surgery is seen as the best way to treat
your problem, you will be sent to a
neurosurgeon to talk about the plan. At this
visit, the surgeon will go over the results
from all the tests that you have had. The
surgery, the reasons for doing it, and the
risks in doing it will be explained to you.
Please bring a list of all your medicines with
you. Include any over-the-counter
medicines you take. Ask any questions you
What do I do if I want to have the
You will need a physical exam and blood
tests. You will be asked to sign a formal
consent form showing that you know the
reasons for and the risks of the surgery. You
will be able to ask questions you may have.
What do I do before surgery?
One week before surgery
ξ Stop taking aspirin, any products that
contain aspirin, and Vitamin E. Stop
taking any non-steroidal medicines
(ibuprofen, Advil , Motrin , etc).
The night before surgery
ξ Wash your hair with antibacterial
ξ Do not eat or drink after midnight.
The morning of surgery
ξ Wash your hair again with
ξ Take your seizure medicine with tiny
sips of water.
When do I need to be at the hospital and
where do I go?
A nurse from the First Day Surgery Unit
(FDS) will call you the day before surgery to
tell you what time to arrive. Enter at the
main hospital entrance. At the Information
Desk, turn left and follow the stone pathway
on the floor to the D elevators. Go to 3rd
floor, turn left down the hallway to the FDS
entrance. Once you have checked in, your
family will be told where to wait.
You will be in the operating room (OR)
about four hours. You will go from there to
the recovery room for about one hour. Your
family will not be able to see you until you
have been taken to a room on an inpatient
unit. Most people spend the first night in the
Intensive Care Unit so they can be watched
closely. The next day, you will be moved to
a private room, and will go home in 2-3
What symptoms might I notice after
ξ Many people have jaw pain and trouble
chewing after this. It will get better over
time as the swelling goes down. You
may want to eat soft foods for a couple
ξ You may have swelling on the side of
your face and eye where the surgery was
done. This swelling will begin to go
away after about 48 hours. An ice pack
put on the area may help the swelling go
ξ You may have a headache. It may last
for a couple of weeks, but it will get
better with time. You will be given pain
medicine in the hospital and sent home
with some, as well.
What should I do at home after surgery?
You will have a dressing wrapped
around your head which will be changed
before you go home. Once you are
home you may wash your hair with a
mild shampoo, but avoid those with
heavy dyes or perfumes. Do not use
conditioner until your sutures are
removed. You sutures will be removed
10-14 days after surgery. Your local
doctor can take them out or you may
come to our clinic for this.
Check your incision daily for any signs
or symptoms of infection such as:
ξ Increased drainage from the site
ξ Change in pain at the site. It will be
tender for a couple of weeks, but
should get better not worse with
ξ Temperature greater than 101.5 θ F
taken by mouth.
If you have any of these symptoms,
please call one of the numbers below.
You should keep taking all of your
seizure medicine until your doctor tells
you not to do so.
Avoid any heavy lifting (no more than a
gallon of milk).
Walk a couple of times a day, but let
your body tell you when you have done
After hours, weekends, and holidays, you
will reach the hospital paging operator. Ask
for the neurosurgery resident on-call. Give
the operator your name and phone number
with the area code. The doctor will call you
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor.
This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because
each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team
when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 2/2017 University of
Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5881