The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center offers pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatment options. Both treatment methods may be used together or separately depending the patient's needs.
Patients diagnosed with epilepsy will be started on medication to control the seizures. There are many medications currently used to treat epilepsy.
Our clinical team will prescribe the most effective medication based on the patient's age, type of epilepsy/seizures, and health history. Medications do not cure epilepsy. They control seizures by calming the brain down and making it less likely to have abnormal electrical activity, which results a seizure.
All the medications we prescribe carry risks for side effects. Your provider will work with you to manage these side effects. Our goal is always to have the best control of seizures with the least amount of side effects. The most common side effect noticed is increased sleepiness during the first one to two weeks of starting a new medication. This usually improves after the child’s body gets used to the new medication.
- EEG (Electroencephalogram): This is a test in which a recording device is connected by wires to electrodes pasted at certain spots on your child’s head. The electrodes read signals produced by electrical discharges in each area of the brain. During an EEG, your child may be asked to blow on a pinwheel to cause hyperventilation and/or look at flashing lights (photic stimulation). This is done to assess if these trigger an event.
- Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU): The test is similar to an EEG. The EMU is a hospital admission that is scheduled for 24-96 hours (depending on what your child’s neurologist orders). The EMU is continuous video, audio, and EEG monitoring for the entire length of your child’s stay.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): An MRI is a machine that takes detailed pictures of the structure of your child’s brain. This method uses magnets instead of radiation. This is used to evaluate for anything abnormal in the brain that could cause a seizure. Infants, young children, and children with developmental delays who cannot lie still for an extended period of time will need to be sedated for this test to allow for clear images to be taken.
- Genetic and Metabolic Testing: Genetic testing may be ordered to evaluate for specific syndromes or causes for your child’s epilepsy. These are blood tests that can be obtained from a simple blood draw. These tests often take 4-8 weeks to get results. For our patients with no known cause for epilepsy, we often order an “epilepsy panel” which tests for abnormalities in 35 genes that are known to cause epilepsy. Metabolic testing- both blood and urine testing may be ordered to assess for metabolic causes for your child’s epilepsy. This can identify abnormalities in how your child’s body uses amino acids, glucose, vitamins, or certain enzymes, which can cause seizures.
- Neuropsychological Testing: Detailed and specific testing of learning skills and brain function provided by a neuropsychologist to assess how epilepsy may impact your child’s learning abilities. The results of the tests can be used to formulate a plan for enhancing learning and as a basis for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for school or to guide epilepsy surgery.
- PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography): A PET scan is similar to a CT scan, but it uses special techniques to produce color-coded pictures. These pictures show us how your child’s brain works. This includes blood flow, use of glucose for cell energy, and the presence of oxygen.
- Genetic and Metabolic Testing: Genetic testing may be ordered to evaluate for specific syndromes or causes for your child’s epilepsy. These are blood tests that can be obtained from a simple blood draw. These tests often take 4-8 weeks to get results. For our patients with no known cause for epilepsy, we often order an epilepsy panel which tests for abnormalities in 35 genes that are known to cause epilepsy. Metabolic testing, both blood and urine test, may be ordered to assess for metabolic causes for your child’s epilepsy. This can identify abnormalities in how your child’s body uses amino acids, glucose, vitamins, or certain enzymes, which can cause seizures.
- Wada Testing: Wada test is a special test that is done to assess which parts of the brain are providing which functions. This is done in Radiology by using medication through an IV to put half of the brain “to sleep” and then performing verbal testing similar to the Neuropsychological evaluation. This is recommended for some surgical patients.
- Lumbar Puncture (LP): LP is a procedure that uses a needle to take fluid from around the spine. This may be an important test for your child to determine the cause of their epilepsy. This can be used to check for infections or abnormalities in the brain’s chemicals.
Common Conditions Treated
- Intractable Epilepsy
- Epilepsy Syndromes