Table of Contents
Epilepsy Research and Treatment
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 216510, 8 pages
Review Article

The “Natural” History of Medically Treated Temporal Lobe Epilepsy: What Can an Evidence-Based Approach Tell Us?

Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, 1796 Summer Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 3A7

Received 14 September 2011; Accepted 5 December 2011

Academic Editor: Seyed M. Mirsattari

Copyright © 2012 Colin Bruce Josephson and Bernhard Pohlmann-Eden. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We systematically reviewed the literature to describe the “natural” history of medically treated temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). No population-based studies recruiting incident cases of TLE irrespective of age exist. Prospective, population-based studies were limited to those recruiting only childhood-onset TLE or those reporting TLE as a subgroup of cohorts of focal epilepsies. Few studies have been performed in the “MRI era” limiting information on natural history secondary to specific pathologies. Available data suggests that TLE is highly variable, with unpredictable transient remissions and low rates of seizure freedom (30 to 50%). Etiology and failure of first and second drug seem to be the most important predictors for treatment prognosis. The role of initial precipitating injuries remains speculative, as imaging information of related events is either missing or conflicting. Prospective cohorts of new-onset TLE with long-term followup using advanced MRI techniques, timely EEG recordings, and assessments of psychiatric comorbidities are needed.