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Epilepsy and Seizures

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Epilepsy: Patient Risks and Treatment Options

The Jefferson Comprehensive Epilepsy Center is one of the most experienced in the world, with a staff that has treated thousands of patients and is distinguished by its internationally recognized experts in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy.

The Center focuses on research, diagnosis and treatment for persons with seizures. Its staff has performed the most surgical operations and participated in the most investigational drug trials of any epilepsy center in the Delaware Valley.

The Center also offers medical treatment, care and counseling for pregnant women with epilepsy, including genetic and psychological counseling and, when required, surgery.

Evaluation

A team of neurologists, neuropsychologists and neurosurgeons will work with you to identify cognitive symptoms and develop a personalized treatment plan based on how epilepsy affects all aspects of your life.

As part of your evaluation, your physician in the Center may want you to be admitted to Jefferson's Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. Monitoring allows us to see precisely how many seizures you are having. It can also tell us which medications might be best for you by determining exactly what type of epilepsy you have. If you are being considered for surgery, monitoring is necessary to locate the area where your seizures begin.

Our Epilepsy Unit consists of six beds, all in private rooms. Each room is customized with special lighting, carpeting, cables, and cameras. There is a central nursing station with a video display in which our specially trained nurses can monitor your seizure activity.

Surgical Treatments

The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center has earned a reputation for successfully treating patients whose seizures are unresponsive to drugs, performing 1,385 surgeries since 1986 for the treatment of epilepsy.

Surgical planning begins with an office consultation with a neurologist, followed by five to seven days of inpatient testing and observation. Diagnostic tools such as continuous EEG display, MRI, PET/CT scan, neuropsychological testing and fMRI (functional MRI) identify epileptogenic areas of the brain and allow our neurologists to map brain function.

The most frequent surgical procedure for epilepsy treatment involves resection of the seizure-generating part of the brain, most commonly found in the temporal lobe. If the seizures do not originate from a single region of the brain, a palliative procedure may be performed to disconnect the neurological pathways responsible for seizure spread.

Our surgeons perform 50 to 70 operations per year (more than all other area medical centers combined).

Research and Clinical Trials

Jefferson neurologists have developed breakthrough surgical and medical treatments for the control of seizures and are among the most experienced in using investigational drugs and procedures when conventional therapy is not effective.

We are testing new devices for implantation of electrodes into the brain. Jefferson is participating in clinical trials that include the study of seizure suspension through the repeated use of deep brain stimulation, as well as a seizure-sensing device that directs abnormal brain tissue to suppress the seizures at their origin.

Jefferson's academic program is at the forefront of scientific research as we continue to develop and test new medicines and surgical techniques to return patients with epilepsy to regular daily activities. With appropriate treatment, about two-thirds of our patients are able to lead normal lives, including going to work or school and driving a car.