A disorder of the central nervous system, epilepsy causes repeated episodes of unprovoked seizures. It affects people of all ages and backgrounds and is triggered by the disturbance of your brain’s normal cell activity. During seizures patients experience abnormal behavior, symptoms and sensations, including loss of consciousness, which can be lethal during activities such as driving or swimming. This is why even mild seizures require treatment. There are many possible causes of epilepsy, including an imbalance of nerve-signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters, tumors, strokes, and brain damage from illness or injury, or a combination of these. In the majority of cases, there may be no detectable cause. To control and regulate all voluntary and involuntary responses in the body, nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other through electrical activity. A seizure occurs when part(s) of the brain receives a burst of abnormal electrical signals that temporarily interrupts normal electrical brain function.
Since the full extent of the seizure may not be completely understood immediately after onset of symptoms, specialists at GIN employ a sophisticated combination of medical evaluation and diagnostic tests. During the examination, the doctor obtains a complete medical history of the person and family and asks when the seizures occurred.
Medication: There are many types of medications used to treat seizures and epilepsy, based on the type of seizure, age of the patient, side effects and the cost of the medication.
Medications used at home are usually taken by mouth (as capsules, tablets, sprinkles, or syrup), but some can be given rectally (into the person’s rectum). If the person is in the hospital with seizures, medication may be given by injection or intravenously by vein (IV).
New diagnostic techniques, drugs and interventions are continually being introduced into neurology and brain and spine specialists at GIN are at the forefront of these advances. Currently the following technology tools are being used at the hospital in the diagnosis of epilepsy in addition to comprehensive clinical evaluation:
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS): Some people, whose seizures are not being well-controlled with seizure medications, may benefit from a procedure called vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). VNS is currently most commonly used for people over age 12 who have partial seizures that are not controlled by other methods, Various technology tools are used for diagnosing the disorders:
Among the diagnostic tests and tools used by doctors at GIN are:
- Blood tests
- Electroencephalogram (EEG): A procedure that records the brain’s continuous, electrical activity by means of electrodes attached to the scalp.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body
- Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan): A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap): A special needle is placed into the lower back, into the spinal canal to measure the pressure in the spinal canal and brain. A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) can be removed and sent for testing to determine if there is an infection or other problems.