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Epilepsy Treatment and Care

Banner Brain & Spine’s compassionate, experienced team of epileptologists is dedicated to helping you effectively manage your epilepsy symptoms to live your life to the fullest. We work with you to build an individualized epilepsy treatment plan specific to your needs and are by your side to support and guide you each step of the way.

How Is Epilepsy Treated?

Although there’s no cure for epilepsy, most people can effectively manage their symptoms. The right epilepsy seizure treatment can make a big difference in your quality of life.  Based on the frequency, severity and type of seizures, and your overall health and medical history, your care team may recommend medication, surgery, rehabilitation and/or other therapies. 

Epilepsy Medications

Seizures generally can be controlled with medication. Anti-seizure drugs reduce frequency and severity or eliminate epileptic seizures. 

Potential side effects of epilepsy medications:

  • Depression, irritability or other emotional changes
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Inflammation of liver or other organs
  • Problems with memory
  • Poor coordination/clumsiness
  • Rash
  • Weight gain

Medications may be available as a tablet, liquid or injectable. To be effective, it’s important you take your medication as prescribed and avoid changing seizure medications without a prescription. Your neurologist will evaluate and manage your seizure medications.

Epilepsy Surgery

If medication is not effectively managing your seizures, your epileptologists will perform an evaluation as to whether you are a surgery candidate. If you are a good candidate, our neurosurgeons with epilepsy surgery training can provide surgical interventions.

Brain surgery for epilepsy involves removing or altering the part of the brain causing your seizures. This surgery is done to reduce seizure frequency or severity or eliminate seizures completely. After surgery, some people can decrease or stop taking anti-seizure medications. Alternatively, laser ablation or electrical stimulation to abort seizures may be offered to you.

It is important to remember that this is a multidisciplinary approach from the beginning to the end and your epileptologist (trained epilepsy neurologist) and neurosurgeon work   closely together to determine the best option for you.

For some patients, trying to localize the specific area where the epileptic seizures originate can be difficult. For these patients, placing small electrodes inside the brain and monitoring them 24/7 inside a special unit in the hospital can give useful information to the epileptologists and neurosurgeons about where the seizure focus might be. 

There are different kinds of seizure surgeries for epilepsy:
  • Resection surgery removes the part of the brain where the seizures start. 
  • When the area affected by seizures is too large or important, disconnection (subpial transection) surgery makes small cuts in the brain to interrupt the nerve pathway and keep seizures from spreading.
  • Thermal ablation/laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) is a medical procedure in which a laser is used to remove tissue. It is a minimally invasive procedure that is typically performed using a long, thin tube,which is inserted  into the brain through a small opening (about 4 millimeters). The laser is used to heat and vaporize the tissue under MRI guidance, which is then absorbed by the body. It can be used to ablate (remove) abnormal brain tissue that is causing seizures.     
  • Vagal nerve stimulator is a type of “pacemaker” that sends pulses of electrical energy to the brain through a cranial nerve in the neck called the vagus nerve. The wire is wrapped around the vagus nerve and the generator is implanted under your skin below the clavicle.
  • Responsive neurostimulation (RNS) is a type of implanted device for epilepsy treatment. Similar to a pacemaker that monitors and responds to heart rhythms, the RNS System is unique medical device that can monitor and respond to brain activity to prevent seizures at their source.
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical treatment that involves the implantation of special wires (electrodes) in the brain attached to an electronic device. This serves as a sort of brain pacemaker, which delivers electrical signals to specific areas of the brain. DBS is also used to treat neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, and dystonia, as well as certain psychiatric conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The goal of DBS is to improve symptoms and quality of life by altering the activity of brain cells in the involved areas of the brain for that function. The procedure involves the implantation of the electrodes through small holes in the skull and into the brain, as well as the implantation of the programmable battery-powered pulse generator under the skin in the chest or abdomen. DBS is typically considered a safe and effective treatment, but it does carry some risks, which should be discussed with the neurosurgeon. If you are considering DBS or have questions about this procedure, please contact our neurosurgery team for more information.

As with any surgery, there are risks of swelling, nerve damage, anesthesia reactions, bleeding or infection. Additionally, with brain surgery, talk to your doctor about the risk of:

  • Memory or language problems or changes
  • Temporary or sustained vision problems
  • Body weakness requiring rehabilitation

Learn more about neurosurgery from the experts at Banner Brain & Spine.  

Other Supportive Epilepsy Treatments

To further help you cope with your epilepsy and seizures, you also may consider: 

  • Treatment for depression or anxiety
  • Keeping a seizure diary to help identify and avoid possible triggers
  • Teaching friends and family about what to do if you have a seizure
  • Wearing a medical alert bracelet
  • Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of sleep.

Trying a ketogenic diet: Some patients have found ketogenic diet, which is high-fat and low-carbohydrate, helps reduce the frequency of seizures. It’s often used with children when seizures don’t respond to medications. Before you change your diet, talk to your doctor and consider working with a nutritionist to ensure proper nutrition and monitoring

Epilepsy Care at Banner Brain & Spine

Banner Brain & Spine is a leader in epilepsy care. We’re nationally recognized for our excellent care and commitment to safety for seizure disorders. Our goal is to tailor a treatment plan to your needs to effectively control your epilepsy. Our multidisciplinary team works with you, seeking your feedback and direction, as well as keeping you up to date about your care and options.

Banner Brain & Spine is experienced in treating even the most challenging seizure disorders. Our patients benefit from the latest treatments and most advanced surgical options. Talk to your doctor about clinical trials available.

The staff at our epilepsy clinics understand the impact epilepsy has on our patients and their families. We’re here to help you through the challenges you face.