Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

Written by Joe Bowman | Published on February 3, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on February 3, 2014

What Is Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?

Temporal lobe epilepsy is one of twenty different kinds of epilepsy. It is characterized by recurring seizures that stem from the medial or lateral temporal lobes of the brain.

Temporal lobe seizures are typically defined as simple partial seizures, which do not cause loss of awareness, and complex partial seizures, which do.

What Causes Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?

Temporal lobe epilepsy has few known causes.

Temporal lobe seizures can begin at any age. The seizures may occur after brain injury or infection, such as meningitis or encephalitis. Sometimes, they are caused by stroke or the presence of a brain tumor.

Who Is at Risk for Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?

According to Epilepsy.com, around 60 percent of people with temporal lobe epilepsy have their seizures spread to other parts of the brain.

There are no other risk factors associated with temporal lobe epilepsy.

What Are the Symptoms of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?

The seizures characteristic of temporal lobe epilepsy are defined as partial seizures without loss of awareness. They can cause unconscious actions, such as lip smacking or rubbing one’s hands together.

How Is Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Diagnosed?

A doctor can diagnose temporal lobe seizures by a detailed description of the seizures occurring in a patient. It is often suggested that the seizures be described by a third-party witness, as patients often don’t remember what happens during the seizures.

A doctor will sometimes recommend that the patient undergo an electroencephalography (EEG) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

How Is Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Treated?

Temporal lobe epilepsy can be treated with a number of medications, including Topamax and Lamictal. Often, medications alone can fully treat temporal lobe seizures.

Surgery is also an option if medication does not prove effective. Success rates of temporal lobe epilepsy surgery range between 60 to 90 percent (Mayo Clinic).

What Is the Outlook for Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?

While temporal lobe epilepsy is often successfully treated with medication and/or surgery, there is always a danger of harm to the patient during a seizure, especially if he or she is operating heavy machinery or a motor vehicle.

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