In the first long-term study of post-surgery epilepsy patients, British researchers found that 82 percent of them were seizure-free after one year, 52 percent had no seizures after five years, and 47 had still had none after 10 years.”If the seizures aren’t controlled with medication, that’s where surgery should be considered,” said John Duncan of the National Hospital for Neurosurgery at University College London, who led the study. “In those people, surgery has a good chance of stopping the seizures.”Epilepsy is a brain disorder that affects around 50 million people worldwide, including many millions of young children and teenagers. It can cause recurring seizures, in which brain cells send out faulty signals, causing sometimes violent muscle spasms and loss of consciousness.It can be focal epilepsy, where a specific part of the brain is affected, or generalised epilepsy, where the regions of the brain involved are much more spread out.There is no cure for epilepsy, but medications can help prevent seizures in some patients. Common drugs include divalproex sodium, the generic version of Abbott Laboratories anti-seizure drug Depakote, and Trileptal sold by Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG .According to the World Health Organisation, recent studies in both developed and developing countries have shown that up to 70 percent of newly diagnosed children and adults with epilepsy can be successfully treated with anti-epileptic drugs.After between two and five years of successful treatment, drugs can be withdrawn in about 70 percent of children and 60 percent of adults without relapses.Around half of epilepsy cases are focal, and in Britain, where Duncan’s study was carried out surgery is generally only available for these patients — usually only when two or three types of medication have already failed.The study, published in The Lancet medical journal, followed 615 patients for up to 19 years after their surgery.The average duration of epilepsy before surgery was 20 years. Duncan and other experts said that in the light of their findings, it was important to improve pre-surgical assessments so that suitable patients could be offered surgery sooner.Asked about the relative costs of the two approaches, Duncan said in a telephone interview that in Britain, such surgery has a one-off cost of around 13,000 pounds ($20,000). Drug therapy, in contrast, costs approximately 1,000 pounds ($1,500) a year plus ongoing costs of healthcare.In a commentary on Duncan’s findings, Ahmed-Ramadan Sadek and William Peter Gray of the Wessex Neurological Centre and Britain’s Southampton University said doctors should change current practice to refer patients who might benefit from surgery earlier.”This study validates the long-term effectiveness of epilepsy surgery,” they wrote. “Clinical practise needs to change with the early referral of appropriate patients.”
Jolie arrived in Libya on Tuesday and toured destruction in Misrata, the city captured by rebels over several weeks of heavy fighting as they pushed to depose Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi earlier this year.Speaking in the lobby of a hotel in the city, she praised the “extraordinary” participation of ordinary Libyans both in the rebel army and transitional authorities, as they sought to forge a new nation.”What’s extraordinary … is that a lot of the people who are part of the solution and are working in positions of even military, and you find that just before the revolution they had retired, or were running restaurants or were selling baby clothes and they’ve all quit their jobs and they are all working here now on behalf of their country,” Jolie told Reuters.”They have all lost family members … they’ve suffered casualties themselves, they’ve lost limbs themselves and yet they’re all really fighting for something they believe in, and for the future of the country for their children, so it’s quite moving,” she added.Jolie set off in a sport utility vehicle, accompanied by armed bodyguards, to drive to Tripoli.She said she had met Libyan transitional government officials during her two-day visit, and highlighted the many needs Libyans faced as they sought to rebuild society and institutions.”This country is going through so much. It’s in transition on so many levels … It’s not just food, it’s not just sanitary conditions or the new laws that need to be put into place. It’s all of these things at once,” she said.She said her visit sought to highlight the plight of foreign migrants and Libyans who had been displaced internally by the war.”I’m also here on behalf of the Libyan people to show them solidarity. I think this revolution on behalf of human rights, which is what I feel these people really have been doing and what they have pushed for, and to help them to implement these new laws and help them with the future of their country.”Jolie visited Libyan refugees in Malta and on the Italian island of Lampedusa in June, and went to Tunisia in April to appeal for international support for people fleeing the revolution there.Jolie is an ambassador for the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR and is expected to announce an expanded role soon.
Walker’s proposals to curb the powers of public sector unions in the state as part of the budget process, ultimately approved by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature, sparked massive protests earlier this year.Democrats collected far more signatures than required in forcing recall elections in six Republican-controlled senate districts and are confident of collecting the signatures for a Walker recall election, party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said.”We had the warm up in the summer and now we have the main event,” Zielinski said.Republicans also forced three Senate Democrats to defend their seats, making a record nine recall elections. The three Democrats held their seats.Walker was elected in November 2010 and under Wisconsin law, he must have been in office at least one year before a recall bid. Once the bid is launched, the recall proponents have 60 days to collect and file the signatures with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.Stephan Thompson, executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, said Wisconsin schools and cities had saved millions of dollars under the changes Walker pressed for.”We welcome and encourage a comparison between the positive results we’re seeing around the state and the failed policies of the past favored by those seeking a recall,” Thompson said in a statement.Walker’s chief of staff, Keith Gilkes, left his post to return to a consulting business and begin advising the governor ahead of a possible recall effort.The effort is being run in collaboration with United Wisconsin, a nonpartisan registered political action committee created to organize a Walker recall.United Wisconsin said in a statement that it had already collected over 200,000 pledges. It wants to collect at least 700,000 signatures to ensure that after petition challenges it reaches the minimum needed to force a recall election.