The brain is the most complex organ of the human body, containing billions of nerve cells that act as the command center for physical and psychological functions.
With this in mind, it seems beyond belief that removing half of the brain can be a feasible, effective surgical procedure for certain neurological conditions, but in some cases, it is. Such a procedure is known as Hemispherectomy. It involves the partial or total removal or disconnection of one of the two hemispheres of the brain. It is considered a radical procedure, which can take as long as 12 hours to complete.
The procedure is usually performed on individuals who have neurological disorders that cause seizures on one side of the brain. Such disorders include severe epilepsy, perinatal stroke, hemimegalencephaly (where one side of the brain is larger than the other), Sturge-Weber-Dimitri disease (characterized by facial birthmarks, glaucoma, and seizures), and Rasmussen's encephalitis (inflammation of the cerebral cortex).
According to The Hemispherectomy Foundation, it is most effective among children, as the remaining half of their brain can compensate for the some of the functions lost by removal of the other half. Patients who undergo this procedure will have some paralysis on the side of their body opposite to their removed hemisphere, and they normally lose sensation or function in the hands and fingers.
However, in many cases, the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks and side effects. One example of a successful hemispherectomy involves a 17-year-old girl called Karley Miller from Australia, who underwent the procedure to stop daily seizures caused by epilepsy. Her decision to have the radical operation was prompted by one seizure that lasted 9 ½ hours.
"I couldn't go anywhere without mum being a few steps behind, I couldn't even have a shower with the door locked in case I had a seizure and no-one could get to me," Karley told The Daily Mail earlier this year.
While Karley did experience some side effects from hemispherectomy, she no longer has seizures and is living a more happy, fulfilling life.
Source: Medical news today