Baltimore Sun

Advances in epilepsy treatment

- Mayo Clinic — Dr. Anteneh Feyissa, Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonvil­le, Florida Mayo Clinic Q&A is an educationa­l resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. Email a question to MayoClinic­Q&A@

Q: My son is in his 20s and has had epilepsy for years. He had undergone extensive evaluation over a decade ago. Lately, his medication hasn’t been effectivel­y preventing seizures. What are some of the innovation­s available to provide him the chance of seizure freedom and improve his quality of life? A:

An epilepsy diagnosis can be challengin­g for anyone. Epilepsy can be frustratin­g because of the unpredicta­bility of seizures and the challenge many people have with medication.

The good news is that over the last two decades we have made several advances in both diagnosing and treating epilepsy. From a diagnostic standpoint, we have a better understand­ing of the genetic basis of epilepsy, with the discovery of multiple epilepsy genes guiding treatment decisions. Advances in imaging mean higher-quality brain scans that can help us better pinpoint a patient’s seizure focal point and improve chances of providing seizure freedom. Soon we also hope to forecast or predict when seizures will occur.

If your son has not had continuing care with a neurologis­t or epilepsy specialist, I would recommend that he consider an evaluation at a specialize­d epilepsy center that can provide a comprehens­ive team approach to his care. The National Associatio­n of Epilepsy Centers rates the Mayo Clinic as a Level 4 epilepsy center because of the availabili­ty of the broadest range of diagnostic and treatment options for people with epilepsy. Mayo Clinic epilepsy care teams have experience treating epilepsy to eliminate seizures or reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures in children and adults.

As treatment advancemen­ts, there have been many improvemen­ts over the last several years.

There has been a significan­t increase in the number of antiseizur­e medication­s coming to the market. There are now more than 25 different medication­s, which are much safer and more effective in controllin­g seizures.

When medicines cannot adequately control seizures, patients now have a number of other advances to help them, including minimally invasive laser surgery, which uses a laser probe and thermal ablation to destroy epileptic tissue, and deep brain stimulatio­n, which can significan­tly reduce seizures in people whose epilepsy is difficult to treat. Also, patients who may have focal epilepsy and are not surgery candidates have other options for care.

Another recent advancemen­t is the ability to use implantabl­e electrical devices that act like pacemakers of the brain. One of these devices can sense abnormal electrical brain activity and then deliver an electric current to stop seizures. The amount of stimulatio­n is controlled by a wire that travels under your skin near the chest and connects this device to the electrodes in your brain.

In addition, there is exciting research that is happening related to epilepsy, including clinical trials looking at new therapies.

Having uncontroll­ed seizures can be extremely frustratin­g, but given the advances in recent years, seeking out expert care for a second opinion may be valuable for your son as he ages.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States