Epilepsy Program Offers Variety of Treatment Options
The epilepsy care team provides a variety of treatment options for patients with seizure disorders. The aim of all therapy is to control seizures and improve each patient's quality of life.
No one treatment works for all patients. Often, the team will offer patients a number of different options. Then together, physicians and patients decide which therapy offers the best chance for a successful outcome.
Anti-Seizure Drugs/Antiepileptic Drugs: Medications can't cure seizure activity, but they can help control it. A single medication or a combination of drugs that are prescribed at the correct dosage will often produce a positive effect. The team works closely with patients to modify medications they may already be taking, or to offer a new drug therapy regimen.
Some patients at Holy Cross Hospital participate in clinical trials to test medications not yet available to the general public.
Surgical Solutions: Patients who don't respond to medication may be candidates for surgery. Epileptologists work closely with neurosurgeons to determine if surgery is an appropriate treatment alternative.
Temporal lobectomy is the most common surgery used to control seizure. In this procedure, neurosurgeons remove the area of the brain that produces seizures.
Split brain surgery is a procedure used for patients in which there are multiple sources for their seizures. In this surgery, neurosurgeons cut the corpus callosum, the tissue that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. This prevents seizures from spreading to both sides of the brain and reduces the number seizures.
Neurosurgeons will only perform surgery when there is little or no risk of damage to areas of the brain that control speech, sight or memory.
The epilepsy care team considers surgery in patients who have:
- Documented epileptic seizures.
- Tried a number of medicines without success or have had bad reactions to medication.
- Seizures that always begin in just one part of the brain.
Vagal Nerve Stimulator Implantation: Patients also may consider having a vagal nerve stimulator implant. In this procedure, the neurosurgeon implants a small device in the upper chest. The device produces vagal stimulation by sending pulses of electrical energy to the brain through the vagus nerve in the neck. This stimulation can reduce seizure activity.
Ketogenic Diet: Some patients are candidates for treatment using a special dietary medical therapy with the ketogenic diet. The diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates and can help control seizures in some people with epilepsy that doesn't respond to other treatments. Patients receive the diet while hospitalized. And the center's epileptologists and dieticians carefully monitor patients for any side effects.