Epilepsy Treatment

Epilepsy specialists at Swedish offers a wide variety of customized treatment options. There is no single treatment that is effective for all people who suffer from seizures. Some symptoms are best managed through medication while others require some type of surgery.

You and your physician may agree upon a treatment plan that includes anti-seizure medications. Many 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).

Some 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 those who continue 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.

Neurosurgeon at Swedish are 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. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and intracranial video-EEG monitoring our physicians can locate where seizures occur, making MST possible.

For patients who haven't been helped by medication and who are not candidates for surgery, Swedish 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 Swedish 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.

Providers Specializing in Epilepsy Treatment

At Swedish, you'll have access to a vast network of dedicated and compassionate providers who offer personalized care by focusing on treatment, prevention and health education.