Neuroscience Institute Epilepsy Center
There is no single treatment that is effective for all people who suffer from seizures. Some symptoms are best managed through medication. Others require some type of surgery. The Swedish Epilepsy Center offers a wide variety of customized treatment options.
You and your physician may agree upon a treatment plan that includes anti-seizure medications. The majority of people with epilepsy can achieve seizure control with medicines alone. If you and your doctor find a medication that both agrees with you and controls your seizures, you will need periodic follow-ups. Even if you are seizure-free and feeling well on your medications, your doctor will recommend intermittent lab work or other examinations. Some of the tests he or she may suggest include:
Liver Function Tests/Complete Blood Count – Some of the anti-seizure medications interfere with liver or bone marrow function in a relatively small percentage of people. There are specific blood tests that can determine whether your medications are causing these types of problems. If they are, your physician can discuss other treatment options.
Anti-seizure Drug Levels – Drug levels are sometimes useful in determining whether you can or should change your medication dose.
DEXA Scan – This test determines bone density and is used to ensure your medications are not contributing to premature bone loss.
If you are not responding to anti-seizure medications, your epilepsy physician may suggest additional testing such as inpatient Video EEG monitoring (VEEG)
About a third of patients with epilepsy have seizures that are not controlled well by medications. If you are in this situation, you and your doctor may discuss non-medical treatment options, including the vagus nerve stimulator or epilepsy surgery. Individuals who undergo successful epilepsy surgery tend to have a much better quality of life than do those who continue on medications alone with poor seizure control. They often enjoy a greater degree of independence, have a better chance of becoming employed, are more likely to be able to drive, and have better interpersonal relationships as a direct or indirect result of improved seizure control.
The Swedish Epilepsy Center Neurosurgeon is experienced in performing a complete range of epilepsy surgical procedures. We offer temporal lobectomy and other surgeries that involve removing the area of the brain where the seizures originate.
We also perform procedures such as focal resections, hemispherectomy and corpus callosotomy, which are designed to block a seizure's electrical route. Swedish was among the first to perform multiple subpial transection (MST). MST is a viable option when the seizure focus is in a vital area of the brain, for example, in areas that control movement, feeling, language, or memory. Through the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and intracranial video-EEG monitoring our physicians are able to locate where seizures occur, making MST possible.
Getting evaluated for surgery ›
Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy
For patients who haven't been helped by medication and who are not candidates for surgery, the Swedish Epilepsy Center offers Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy. This treatment involves the implantation of a pacemaker-like device under the collarbone. The vagus nerve stimulator delivers regulated electrical signals to the brain, reducing the number, as well as the intensity, of seizures.
Because the Swedish Epilepsy Center actively participates in epilepsy research, patients have access to leading-edge therapies that are not widely available. Currently, epilepsy specialists at Swedish are participating in a well-known national research study known as the Responsive Neurostimulator System (RNS) Trial. This research study is testing a device that is implanted in the patient to anticipate a seizure and deliver electrical stimulation to suppress the seizure before it occurs.