Chances are you know someone who suffers from epilepsy. Also called seizure disorder, epilepsy is the third-most common neurological disorder, affecting people of any age, from newborns to the elderly. About 65 million people worldwide live with epilepsy, and one in 26 Americans will develop some form of the disorder during their lives.
A progressive disease, it can be caused by a variety of issues, including serious infections, stroke, and genetic predisposition (primarily assumed when no other cause is apparent). In addition, children identified within the autism spectrum and seniors over 65 may be more prone to epileptic events.
The most common symptoms are mild-to-violent seizures, an event of significantly altered brain function caused by abnormal or excessive electrical discharges from brain cells. Signs of the illness can include unresponsiveness and confusion, staring, wandering, and uncontrollable body movement and shaking.
While not all seizures indicate epilepsy, if you or a loved one has experienced some type of seizure, you should call emergency medical services right away. Following a seizure, patients should receive a proper examination, and if epilepsy is diagnosed, treatment should begin immediately. The disease is treated in several ways, beginning with various medications that can slow or minimize the regularity of seizures.
Diagnosis and treatment
Typically epilepsy is diagnosed starting with an evaluation of symptoms, a thorough review of medical history, and a physical exam followed by an electroencephalogram (EEG) and imaging such as a CT scan or MRI. These tests are usually sufficient touse to make a diagnosis, but some situations may require that patients stay in a special epilepsy monitoring unit where video and audio can be recorded concurrently.
While surgery may not be the first choice for treatment, it is a viable and helpful option for those patients for whom other methods have been ineffective. A temporal lobe resection, also known as a temporal lobectomy, can help to lower the number of seizures experienced by an epilepsy patient, make them less severe or even stop seizures entirely. Other options include the use of therapeutic stimulation devices, which can also help treat drug-resistant epilepsy.
“About one-third of all patients with epilepsy will not have adequate control over the problem with prescriptions alone,” said Mark Hoeprich, MD, neurosurgeon with Kettering Health Network. “In that instance, surgery is often an option.”
The overall goal of surgical epilepsy treatment is to precisely identify the origins of seizures.
“We ablate (precisely destroy) the affected areas with minimally invasive techniques, using a laser,” Dr. Hoeprich said. “If a precise target is not present, then we have additional surgical techniques to help mitigate and treat the seizures.”
Every patient’s journey with epilepsy is different. Brain & Spine at Kettering Health Network provides services to help patients identify, diagnose and treat epilepsy. The program can provide advanced surgical workups, along with possible therapeutic surgical options, such as resections and stimulators.
Kettering Health Network Brain & Spine is proud to have the first comprehensive epilepsy center of its time in the greater Dayton region. For treatment options or more information, visit www.ketteringhealth.org/neuro or call 1-844-211-5482.