BACKGROUND - Multiple subpial transections (MST) are a treatment for seizure foci in nonresectable eloquent areas.
OBJECTIVE - To systematically review patient-level data regarding MST.
METHODS - Studies describing patient-level data for MST procedures were extracted from the Medline and PubMed databases, yielding a synthetic cohort of 212 patients from 34 studies. Data regarding seizure outcome, patient demographics, seizure type, surgery type, and complications were extracted and analyzed.
RESULTS - Seizure freedom was achieved in 55.2% of patients undergoing MST combined with resection, and 23.9% of patients undergoing MST alone. Significant predictors for seizure freedom were a temporal lobe focus (odds ratio 4.9; 95% confidence interval 1.71, 14.3) and resection of portions of the focus, when feasible (odds ratio 3.88; 95% confidence interval 2.02, 7.45). Complications were frequent, with transient mono- or hemiparesis affecting 19.8% of patients, transient dysphasia 12.3%, and permanent paresis or dysphasia in 6.6% and 1.9% of patients, respectively.
CONCLUSION - MST is an effective treatment for refractory epilepsy in eloquent cortex, with greater chances of seizure freedom when portions of the focus are resected in tandem with MST. The reported rates of seizure freedom with MST are higher than those of existing neuromodulatory therapies, such as vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation, and responsive neurostimulation, though these latter therapies are supported by randomized-controlled trials, while MST is not. The reported complication rate of MST is higher than that of resection and neuromodulatory therapies. MST remains a viable option for the treatment of eloquent foci, provided a careful risk-benefit analysis is conducted.