Academic Editors: Ayataka Fujimoto, Tohru Okanishi and Rafael Franco
Surgery is an essential treatment option for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. While most epilepsy patients worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), most of these countries do not have epilepsy surgery, and those that do have surgical epilepsy services lack capacities. The rapidly growing population in LMIC further widens the gap between the number of patients who can potentially benefit from surgery and those who can actually receive it. This makes the initiation of new surgical epilepsy centers in those countries an urgent issue. Epilepsy surgery is feasible in LMIC, even in resource-poor settings, but lack of local expertise is a major obstacle to the introduction of new surgical services. Importantly, expertise deficits can be compensated by collaborating with a well-established epilepsy center for knowledge transfer, skill building and mentoring. Such projects need to be organized in a multidisciplinary team, should focus on the given circumstances, and should use technologies and personnel that are reasonably available and can function sustainably. Local cultural factors and improvement of patients’ quality of life are further spotlights reflected by an increasing number of studies. As a general outline for a new surgical epilepsy program in LMIC, it is recommended to initially focus on patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy due to hippocampal sclerosis or other well defined pathologies. These constellations have an excellent surgical outcome in terms of seizure control, can be diagnosed by non-invasive methods, and can be reliably identified even under low-resource conditions. Moreover, surgery can be performed with a highly standardized approach and at reasonable costs, and the vast majority of patients will benefit from surgical intervention. The range of services can then be gradually expanded, depending on growing expertise, local needs, prospects and constraints. Although the introduction of surgical epilepsy services in LMIC can face several challenges, none of them should be a permanent barrier for further establishments.