October 29, 2019

Study Finds Fewer Google Searches for Epilepsy Surgery Over 15-Year Period

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BACKGROUND: Epilepsy surgery is an effective treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy. Some centers have noticed changes in referral patterns.

AIM: The aim of this study was to determine if online infodemiological data related to epilepsy surgery reflect reported changes in referrals to surgical centers.

METHODS: Google Trends and Pageview analysis of temporal trends of searches conducted in Google and Wikipedia for epilepsy surgery, using key search terms such as “epilepsy surgery” and terms related to pathology, operation type, and investigative practice.

RESULTS: Over the 15-year time period studied by Google trend analysis, when the initial three-year epoch and final three-year epoch are compared, a 56.1% decline in search volume for “epilepsy surgery” was observed. Vagus nerve stimulation and laser ablation are increasingly searched items. Pageview analysis shows that temporal lobe epilepsy remains the most commonly searched subtype of epilepsy and hippocampal sclerosis was searched for more than focal cortical dysplasia.

CONCLUSION: This study suggests a lower search interest over time in epilepsy surgery, and various associated terms, with increased interest in vagus nerve stimulation and laser ablation procedures over time. There is no clear indication from these data regarding the apparent shift from mesial temporal cases to an increase in extratemporal case workload.

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