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Epilepsy treatment


The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center offers comprehensive clinical support to children with epilepsy and seizure disorders. Our program is recognized by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers as a Level IV Center, the highest obtainable level in epileptic care. The designation recognizes programs that meet the highest standards for patient care. 

Epilepsy Center staff


At the Epilepsy Center, your child will be treated by board-certified experts who specialize in pediatric epilepsy, pediatric neurosurgery, neuroradiology, and neuropsychology. Families are also supported by advanced practice nurses, nutrition specialists, and social workers. Our multidisciplinary team works with families to meet each child's unique medical needs, from infancy through young adulthood. 

Program highlights

 

  • The center utilizes the latest technology to diagnose and treat seizure disorders. 

  • Our Ketogenic diet program is one of the largest and most successful programs nationwide.

  • Specialists provide comprehensive diagnostic and treatment optionsthrough surgical interventions, medication therapy, and dietary alterations. 

  • Our clinic is specially designed to provide compassionate, family-centered care and support. 

  • Our team is actively involved in research that helps continually broaden our understanding of pediatric epilepsy.

Diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy


The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center offers several different treatment options for all types of epilepsy and seizure disorders. Your epilepsy team may recommend more than one treatment method, depending on your child's needs.

Medications


Children who are 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 your child'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 your child’s body gets used to the new medication.

Diagnostic services

 

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG): 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.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): 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.

  • Positron Emission Tomography scan (PET): 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.

Clinical Services

Epilepsy surgery is the only potential cure for epilepsy. This is a possible option for children with partial seizures that arise from a certain spot in the brain.

A vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) is an implanted (under the skin) device with a wire attached to the vagus nerve in the neck. The vagus nerve is one of the main communication pathways between the body and the brain.

The ketogenic diet program at Children’s Mercy helps children with epilepsy and other seizure disorders to reduce or eliminate seizures through a medically prescribed personalized diet plan.

Children with epilepsy should be encouraged to lead as normal a life as possible. There is no reason people with epilepsy cannot participate fully in most of activities that a typical child enjoys.

Stories

Ketogenic diet for pediatric epilepsy: Vito's Story

Diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder Glut1 as an infant, Vito Costanza had constant seizures until beginning the ketogenic diet at Children’s Mercy. Thankfully, the diet has been a lifesaver for Vito.

Meet Vito

Consultation request process


To request a consultation for a new patient at the Comprehensive Epilepsy Clinic, please complete the Epilepsy Clinic Referral Form and fax to 913-696-8580.

An Epilepsy Program Coordinator will contact the parent to schedule the appointment and will also notify the primary care physician of the date/time of the appointment.

To request a consultation regarding a follow-up patient, please have the parents contact the Epilepsy Clinic directly at 913-696-8950.