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Epilepsy Health Center

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Treatment for Epilepsy

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How Long Epilepsy Treatment Lasts continued...

Surgery is most commonly performed to treat partial epilepsy, since only one area of the brain is involved. During surgery, the area of the brain that triggers the seizures (usually a portion of the anterior temporal lobe) is removed. After surgery, some patients will be completely free of seizures; in others, the seizures will be better controlled. A few patients may need additional surgery.

Other surgical approaches are reserved for specific types of epilepsy and are most often performed in young children. One approach is to remove a large part of one side of the brain (a hemispherectomy); another is to cut the nerve fibers connecting the two sides of the brain (a corpus callosotomy).

Surgery is also done to implant devices. In vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), a device that electronically stimulates the vagus nerve (which controls activity between the brain and major internal organs) is implanted under the skin. This reduces seizure activity in some patients with partial seizures. There’s also the responsive neurostimulation device (RNS), which consists of a small neurostimulator implanted within the skull under the scalp. The neurostimulator is connected to one or two wires (called electrodes) that are placed where the seizures are suspected to originate within the brain or on the surface of the brain. The device detects abnormal electrical activity in the area and delivers electrical stimulation to normalize brain activity before seizure symptoms begin.

Other Epilepsy Treatment Options

The ketogenic diet -- a high-fat, low-carb plan -- has received much attention lately and is effective for treating certain types of epilepsy. Specifically, it is used most frequently in children with seizures that have not responded to medical therapy. However, the diet requires careful planning and may be difficult to follow, so it is usually not recommended in older children or adults. The diet is usually started in the hospital, and when successful, it is most often maintained for two to three years.



WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on November 24, 2015
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