Scientific publications

Temporal lobectomy in acute complicated herpes simplex encephalitis: technical case report

Sánchez-Carpintero R (1), Aguilera S (1), Idoate M (2), Bejarano B (3).
(1) Department of Paediatrics, Paediatric Neurology Unit, University Clinic of Navarra, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
(2) Department of Pathology, University Clinic of Navarra, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
(3) Departament of Neurosurgery, , University Clinic of Navarra, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.

Magazine: Neurosurgery

Date: May 1, 2008

Pathological Anatomy [SP] Neurosurgery Department Pediatría [SP]

Herpes virus encephalitis is a rare, life-threatening complication of therapy in patients with brain tumors. A surgical therapeutic approach may be needed because the infection can be resistant to acyclovir in immunocompromised patients, and complications and long-term sequelae are frequent.

We present the case of a right-handed, 6-year-old girl with a brainstem tumor who had herpes virus encephalitis with refractory seizures while on immunosuppressive treatment. The virus was resistant to acyclovir but responded to gancyclovir. The patient developed local refractory brain edema with right uncal herniation.

To reduce the intracranial pressure, internal decompressive craniotomy was performed, which consisted of a right temporal lobectomy that allowed us to remove the focal necrotic-hemorrhagic tissue, decrease inflammation, and avoid subsequent chronic gliotic scarring. Clinical improvement was clear with prompt recovery and acute control of seizures. The only remaining deficits were mild memory and attention impairments. Seizures did not recur in the next 6 months.

Antiviral resistance should be suspected in immunocompromised patients with herpes virus encephalitis if there is no early response to acyclovir. If uncal herniation of the nondominant temporal lobe develops, temporal lobectomy, as an internal decompressive procedure, can be lifesaving. Lobectomy stopped the acute refractory seizures and can be considered a good approach to prevent later epilepsy, with only mild residual cognitive deficits.

CITATION  Neurosurgery. 2008 May;62(5):E1174-5; discussion E1175

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