AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Are There Signs of CTE in the Brain Tissue of Younger People with Epilepsy?

Younger adults with difficult-to-treat epilepsy may have early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in their brain tissue, but it appears to be uncommon.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a rare, degenerative brain disease most likely caused by repeated head trauma. People with CTE may develop symptoms like dementia, personality disorders or behavior problems. People with epilepsy can experience head trauma when they have full body seizures, also called tonic-clonic seizures, or partial or focal seizures where they lose some or all awareness of their surroundings.

For this small pilot study, researchers looked at microscopic sections of brain tissue from 10 people living with epilepsy who had resective surgery to control seizures that could not be fully controlled by medication. The surgery removes the area of the brain shown in testing to be where the seizures begin.

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