Jefferson University Hospitals

Vickie & Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience

Comprehensive Epilepsy Center

Comprehensive Epilepsy Center

We know every patient and family member copes with epilepsy differently. The Jefferson Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at the Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience is home to an experienced, world-renowned multidisciplinary team that brings you the experience you need to treat your epilepsy. 

Our neurologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, nurses and physician assistants work together to make an accurate diagnosis and identify the best treatment plan for you. With appropriate treatment, most of our patients are able to fully engage in occupational, academic and recreational pursuits. 

What's new at the Epilepsy Center Webinar

In this exclusive Jefferson webinar, members of the distinguished team from the Department of Neurology discuss the latest news and advancements happening at the Epilepsy Center.

Fast Facts:

1 in 26
people will be diagnosed with epilepsy over their lifetime
80 to 90
epilepsy operations are performed at Jefferson each year
Over 1,000
operations to diagnose & treat epilepsy performed at Jefferson since 1997
annual admissions to our Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Jefferson is accredited by the NAEC as a level 4 epilepsy center. Level 4 epilepsy centers have the professional expertise and facilities to provide the highest level medical and surgical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy.

Understanding Seizures

A seizure occurs when the brain experiences abnormal electrical activity.  This abnormal activity may cause loss of awareness, ,speech difficulty and unusual muscle movements.

Seizures are a much more common problem than people realize. One in 10 Americans will have at least one seizure in their lifetime. Specific causes of seizures may include stroke, traumatic brain injury, infection, abnormal brain development, or a genetic cause.  However, about half of all seizures happen for no clear reason.

Our team is available to accurately diagnose patients who have just experienced their first seizure. In addition, we provide care for people who continue to experience seizures despite taking medication.  Patients undergo EEG testing right before their appointment. An EEG is a safe, painless test that records the electrical activity in your brain to help with diagnosis.  

At your first appointment, you will meet with a neurologist who subspecializes in treating epilepsy. All Center neurologists have subspecialty fellowship training in epilepsy and EEG. If your seizure was witnessed by a someone else, you may want to ask that person to accompany you to your appointment as they often have valuable information to relay to the doctor.

Epilepsy Diagnosis & Treatment

Epilepsy is diagnosed when you experience more than one seizure, or you are likely to experience additional seizures after having one seizure. The Center’s physicians have a wealth of experience in caring for people with all kinds of seizures and can tailor treatment to your needs.

A full range of treatment options are available to the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center:

  • Medication Management – Many anti-epileptics drugs are now available. Our experience allows us to select the most appropriate treatment for you, while avoiding undesirable side effects. 
  • Diet/Nutrition Plans – Some diets, including the ketogenic diet, may help seizures.  Your physician, working in collaboration with a Registered Dietician, can advise regarding customized nutrition plans.
  • Functional MRI (fMRI) – Our team has extensive experience in functional MRI testing, which helps  determine which parts of the brain are responsible for speech, movement, sensation and memory.

The Center’s neurologists also take into consideration the unique needs of people with epilepsy who are or may become pregnant. 

Diagnostic Testing Available

We offer a full range of diagnostic tests, which are performed based on individual need. EEG and MRI are commonly recommended.  In addition, we offer advanced testing including:

  • Video-EEG monitoring  – performed on a dedicated epilepsy monitoring unit this can be done with either scalp electrodes or intracranial electrodes (electrodes placed on the surface of the brain or within it) using SEEG or subdural electrodes.
  • Ambulatory EEG – measures brain activity while you are home and moving around.
  • Neuropsychological Testing – assesses cognitive abilities and can help in set goals for school and work and in determining whether counseling or cognitive rehabilitation are needed.
  • Invasive monitoring - electrodes can be implanted with a minimally-invasive technique known as stereoelectroencephalograpy to better identify the locations of seizure onset and seizure spread
  • Cortical Mapping – parts of the brain are stimulated with electric current to identify which areas of the brain are critical for language, movement and sensation to enhance the safety of surgery.


About one-third of people living with epilepsy experience "drug resistant epilepsy," or epilepsy that cannot be fully treated using medications alone.  For some of these people, undergoing surgery may be the best way to stop or reduce their seizures.  The Center is internationally renowned for its surgical program which is among the most experienced in the world.  

The Center's neurosurgeons provide the most advanced surgical procedures in the country. We're able to offer the full range of surgical treatment options, including:

  • Resection (including temporal lobectomy, resection in frontal, parietal and occipital lobes)
  • Thermal ablation using laser technology
  • Corpus callosotomy (anterior or complete)
  • Vagus nerve stimulation (a device implanted in the neck that reduces seizures by sending electrical signals that ultimately get sent up to the brain)
  • Responsive neurostimulation
  • Deep brain stimulation

You and your physicians will decide if surgery is an appropriate option for you. All patients are discussed at a dedicated epilepsy surgery conference, attended by neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists and neuroradiologists.

Is Surgery Right for You?

At least 30 to 40 percent of patients with epilepsy continue to have seizures despite treatment with anti-seizure medications. There is good medical evidence that surgery is an effective and safe option for many of these patients.

Consider evaluation for surgery if your seizures are not well controlled after having tried two or more anti-seizure medications. Start by asking your doctor these questions:

  • Is epilepsy surgery right for me?
  • What are the various types of epilepsy surgery, and how do you determine which is best for me?
  • To what extent can surgery reduce seizures? What percentage of patients actually become seizure-free?
  • What are the potential risks of epilepsy surgery?
  • What is the typical recovery period from epilepsy surgery?

Download the Doctor Discussion Guide (PDF) to bring to your next appointment.

Make An Appointment

Call 1-800-JEFF-NOW (1-800-533-3669) to make an appointment with an epilepsy specialist at Jefferson Health.