November 7, 2017
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects an estimated 10 million Americans, and millions more worldwide. But as surgical procedures have progressed, treatments have become both more effective and less invasive than ever. Here’s what you need to know about epilepsy, and about how it can be treated.
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. Generally speaking, it falls into two categories: symptomatic or idiopathic. Symptomatic epilepsy usually has a specific cause—strokes, traumatic brain injuries, or infections can all cause the disorder to occur.
Idiopathic epilepsy is more often caused by genetics or other malformations within the brain that occur during development. Both forms of epilepsy have similar symptoms, but because the causes are different they may require different forms of treatment.
How is epilepsy diagnosed?
Typically, the first person to see a problem is a parent or caregiver. They may notice twitches, seizures, or other abnormal behaviors that cause concern. After these behaviors have been observed, generally the patient will need to see a doctor or neurologist for a formal diagnosis, which is the first step in developing a treatment plan.
How is epilepsy treated?
The first step in treatment is medication. But for patients who continue to have seizures after they’ve been treated with two different medications, the International League Against Epilepsy recommends they be referred to a surgical program.
The good news is that many of these surgical procedures are minimally invasive. For example, some laser surgery options only require a 3.2 millimeter-wide point of entry, which allows for a much faster recovery. Robot-assisted surgeries have also helped to make surgical procedures less invasive, and easier on patients.
Is surgical treatment for epilepsy safe?
While the idea of brain surgery can seem a little scary, surgery offers a much brighter future for patients with epilepsy. If seizures are allowed to occur, they can cause developmental problems, and decrease the overall abilities of the brain itself, even to the point that a patient may require 24-hour care. It’s far better to undergo surgery than the risk of a lifetime of seizures.
And in cases where it’s not possible to remove lesions or the root cause of a seizure, surgery can still offer other helpful solutions such as neuromodulation. This technique and others like it uses electrode implants to help relieve the brain of potential seizures, acting to regulate activity. These and other methods can help patients with epilepsy find relief without losing ability.
If you have further questions about epilepsy, or would like to learn how Goodman Campbell can diagnose and treat this disorder, call us today at 888-225-5464 to schedule an appointment.