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Corpus Callosotomy (CC), sometimes called split brain surgery, is a surgical procedure to control generalized seizures in children, primarily atonic seizures (drop attacks), by cutting the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is a band of tissue that connects and transmits messages from one side of the brain to the other. Unlike a lobectomy, CC does not involve removing any portion of the brain.
Some children with generalized seizures that don’t have an identifiable focus that can be resected may also be candidates for CC. Drop attacks have a risk of injury to the child, and corpus callosotomy surgery has been shown to reduce falls by about 70 percent. This surgery may not decrease occurrence of partial seizures.
Children are given a general anesthesia prior to the surgery. To prepare for the surgery, part of your child’s hair will be shaved.
An incision will be made and a craniotomy will be performed (removal of a piece of the skull that will be replaced at the end of the surgery). Using microsurgical techniques, the space between the two halves of the brain will be entered and the anterior two-thirds of the corpus callosum will be sectioned (partial callosotomy). The posterior one-third may also require sectioning (complete callosotomy), or this can be done later during a second procedure.
At the end of the procedure, the dura (membrane covering the brain) will be closed, the skull replaced, and the scalp closed with absorbable sutures.
Your child will be in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) overnight or until he or she is medically stable enough to go to another nursing unit. While still in the ICU, your child will be observed continuously and blood pressure, pulse and respiration will be checked frequently.
Once out of the ICU your child will probably require an additional five to seven days of hospitalization. Inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation may be necessary to optimize your child’s functioning. Your child will be evaluated carefully over the next few months to see what effect the first surgery had on the seizures, whether there are persistent complications, and when the second procedure should be done.
As with any surgery, there are risks side effects after CC surgery, which could include:
This rarely happens, but if complications do arise, the results may be serious.
Other possible complications include mutism (lack of speech), weakness of an extremity, or lack of bladder control. These seldom occur and usually resolve within two weeks. Some children demonstrate a change in behavior. Sophisticated neuropsychological testing may demonstrate other subtle deficits that are not functionally apparent. If your doctor thinks your child is at risk for these problems, he or she will discuss them with you in greater detail.
To make a referral, schedule an appointment, or request an evaluation for a child or teen, call at 412-692-6928.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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