If your seizures do not get better with medication or other treatments, surgery might help. The operation may be done to stop the electrical currents from spreading in the brain or to remove the part of the brain causing the seizures. Surgery does not help if your seizures begin in your whole brain (generalized seizures).

Our neurosurgeons (doctors who specialize in the surgical treatment of nervous system disorders), neurologists and other health professionals work together to decide on the best type of surgery for you after careful examination and testing.

Common types of epilepsy surgery are:

The RNS® System

OHSU is the only hospital in the region to offer an innovative procedure to treat patients with medically refractory partial epilepsy: The RNS® System. The RNS® System is the first closed loop responsive brain stimulation system that treats partial onset seizures by detecting specific types of electrical activity through leads containing electrodes placed near the patient’s seizure foci. When abnormal activity occurs, the device delivers small bursts of electrical stimulation intended to reduce the frequency of seizures.

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is sometimes used when medications can't control your seizures. It may also be recommended when brain surgery is not a good option. During vagus nerve stimulation, a device implanted under your skin sends short bursts of electrical energy to the brain through the vagus nerve, a large nerve in the neck. Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve is thought to affect areas in the brain that produce seizures.

Anterior temporal lobectomy

Anterior temporal lobectomy (ATL) is the most common type of surgery to control seizures that do not respond to medications. In this procedure, your surgeon removes a small portion of the temporal lobe of the brain in the area causing the seizures. The temporal lobe is one of four sections that make up the cerebrum, the largest part of your brain. The anterior (front) of the temporal lobe is a common place for seizures to start.

Selective Amygdalohippocampectomy (SAH)

In Selective amygdalohippocampectomy (SAH), your surgeon removes portions of the medial (inner) part of the temporal lobe of the brain causing seizures.


This type of surgery removes brain tissue that is abnormal (not normal) and causes seizures. The abnormal tissue, called a lesion, may be from a brain tumor, injury or other medical problem.