Surgery may be a cure for epilepsy

2013-07-29 09:23:56 by Theresa Attalla, PR Intern, as posted on the blog.

Surgery has radically changed the landscape in treating children who suffer from seizures and offers a potential cure for patients whose seizures cannot be controlled with medicine.

"Children are typically placed on medication after a second seizure, and most children outgrow their seizures," said Dr. Deborah Holder, director of Epilepsy and Neurophysiology at Akron Children's Hospital. "However, 30 percent of childhood epilepsy cases are intractable, which means the child's seizures are unable to be controlled by medication."

Dr. Holder considers these patients candidates for surgery, as well as those who are having complications while on medication that impacts their quality of life.

The earlier in life the patient can have the surgery the better. Children who have repeated seizures throughout childhood are at greater risk for developmental delays.

"It's worrisome to see IQ scores decline in teens who have been having seizures since 5 or 6 years of age," said Dr. Roger Hudgins, director of Pediatric Neurosurgery and the NeuroDevelopmental Science Center at Akron Children's. "It's a combination of seizures, of not being in school, and of the medications that can make it difficult for them to learn and keep up."

In many cases, a child will awake from surgery seizure free. Others may experience seizures for a few weeks before they go away. Akron Children's monitors patients closely for years with neuropsychological testing, EEGs and MRIs. Patients and their families also have access to a child psychologist to help them cope with the stress of living with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is the most common neurological disease of childhood, and seizures disrupt family life and impact a child’s social interactions and self-esteem.

"It's scary to have a child with epilepsy," Dr. Hudgins said. "Parents may worry about having their child attending sleepovers, playing sports and doing normal childhood activities. Teens can be restricted from driving."

Home video can assist in epilepsy diagnosis

Seizures occur for many different reasons and there are different types of seizures.

Parents who own smartphones and digital cameras often wonder if they should shoot video of their child during a seizure.

The answer is "yes."

"I have actually recommended that parents do this for years, but video cameras were often large and cumbersome. Now it's so easy with cell phones and pocket-size videocameras," Dr. Holder said. "Watching this video could be very useful in helping us make a diagnosis."

For more information about surgical treatment for epilepsy, watch these videos.

Akron Children's epilepsy team includes pediatric epileptologists (neurologists who specialize in seizure disorders), neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists and neuroradiologists, as well as a psychologist, social worker and play therapist. A special epilepsy monitoring unit is used to evaluate candidates for surgery. The unit has beds that are specially wired for video/EEG monitoring.

For an appointment, call 330-543-8050.

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