Rasmussen’s encephalitis: advances in management and patient outcomes

Caitlin E. Hoffman*, Ayako Ochi, Orlando Carter Snead, Elysa Widjaja, Cynthia Hawkins, Martin Tisdal, James T. Rutka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose: Rasmussen’s encephalitis (RE) is a hemispheric inflammatory disorder resulting in progressive epilepsy, hemiparesis, and cognitive decline. Controversy surrounds the most effective timing of surgery with respect to language dominance, functional status, and seizure outcome. We describe our experience with RE to inform treatment decisions. Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed in children diagnosed with RE from 1983 to 2012. Results: Thirteen consecutive cases were identified: six males and seven females with a mean age of 10.6 years (range 5–18). Nine patients received immunotherapy, with transient benefit in three, treatment-associated complications in two, and no difference in their mean time to treatment (5.38 vs 6.37 years p = 0.74) or long-term outcome. Mean follow-up was 5.6 years (range 0.58–12.25). There was no difference in outcome based on pre-operative duration of seizures. At last follow-up, 63 % of surgically treated patients achieved seizure freedom, 100 % had improved seizure control, 90 % had improved cognitive function, 36 % stopped medication, and 63 % tapered medication. Language improved in 83 % of patients with dominant disease. These findings were not associated with age at treatment. All surgical patients were ambulatory at last follow-up. Conclusions: Hemispherotomy achieves good seizure control with cognitive improvement and ambulatory status post-operatively. Time to surgery and dominant disease were not associated with outcome, suggesting that hemispherotomy can be offered early or late, with expectations of good seizure control and functional outcome, even with dominant disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-640
Number of pages12
JournalChild's Nervous System
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Hemispherotomy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Intractable epilepsy
  • MEG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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