Utilizing Breakthrough Imaging Technology
New technology such as electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring allows doctors to:
- More exactly diagnose the type of seizure
- Determine where in the brain the seizure begins
- Quantify the frequency and duration of seizures
- Test the effectiveness of medication
- Identify those who can be better helped with surgical intervention
Other state-of-the-art imaging technology available at Sarasota Memorial for the evaluation and diagnosis of the disease includes:
- CT scans
- SPECT: single photon emission computed tomography
- PET: positron emission tomography
- MRI: magnetic resonance imaging
- Functional MRI: Functional magnetic resonance imaging
- Lumbar puncture
- Neuropsychological testing
- Brain Mapping (cortical mapping)
- MRA magnetic resonance angiography
- MRS magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)
- CTA computed tomography angiography
- Conventional angiography endovascular intervention
- Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
In approximately two-thirds of people with epilepsy, anti-epileptic drug therapy is effective.
People with seizures not controlled by antiepileptic medications may benefit from surgery. A number of different surgical procedures are available and are tailored to the needs of the individual patient including:
- Resection of structural lesions in the brain, such as tumors, malformations and scars
- Nonlesional surgery – resection of regions of the brain causing seizures without having a structural lesion
- Corpus callosotomy – a split-brain procedure
- Hemispherectomy – the removal of half of the brain
- Gamma Knife surgery – a highly focused radiation therapy also called stereotactic radiosurgery
Vagal Nerve Stimulation
One of the most exciting developments in the field of epilepsy treatment is the Vagal Nerve Stimulator (VNS). About the size of a hockey puck, the device is placed in the chest, with its wires around the vagus nerve. Once implanted, the epileptologist will program the VNS to deliver a series of stimulations to the vagus nerve at various strengths and frequencies.
VNS works by repetitively stimulating the vagus nerve for a period of time and then by pausing for a period of time. How this achieves an anti-epileptic effect is unknown but one theory is that the device "scrambles" some of the synchronous discharges of the brain.
The procedure can be useful in aborting a seizure in patients who can sense one about to start. And it can be helpful for family and caretakers in shortening seizures and allowing for faster recovery for those patients who cannot sense a seizure starting.
Though no more effective a treatment than medication, its does lack the central nervous system side effects commonly caused by many medications. When effective, it may allow people to decrease or eliminate other medications and lead to a better quality of life. It also has shortened the duration of seizures and recovery time.
The Clinical Research Center at Sarasota Memorial offers qualifying patients the opportunity to participate in research trials for epilepsy and other general neurological conditions.
For more information, please contact Jeanette Bryant at (941) 330-1864 or (941) 906-7155 ext. 1164 for a list of the most recent trials and eligibility criteria.
A patient must be referred by a physician. For a referral, please call Sarasota Memorial’s HealthLine at (941) 917-7777.