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What is Epilepsy?

A disorder in which disturbed nerve cell activity in the brain causes seizures, Epilepsy may occur as a result of a genetic disorder or an acquired brain injury, such as a trauma or stroke.

epilepsy surgeryDuring a seizure, a person may experience abnormal behavior, symptoms, and sensations.  The most common physical reactions of Epilepsy include violent tremors and loss of consciousness. Typically; few, if any, symptoms present between seizures.  Epilepsy is usually treated by medications and in some cases by surgery, devices, or dietary changes.

Main Causes
For patients who become diagnosed with Epilepsy, some of the main causes of this condition include:
  • Low oxygen level during child delivery
  • Head injuries that occur during birth or from accidents during youth or adulthood.
  • Brain tumors.
  • Genetic conditions that result in brain injury, such as tuberous sclerosis.
  • Infections such as meningitis or encephalitis.

Convulsion is a medical condition where the body muscles contract and relax rapidly and repeatedly, resulting in uncontrolled violent twitches and shakes of the body. Because epileptic seizures typically include convulsions, the term convulsion is sometimes used as a synonym for seizure.

How is Epilepsy treated?

Epilepsy is usually treated by medications and in some cases by surgery, devices, or dietary changes.

Testing may include:

  • CAT scan, MRI, and PET/MRI to look inside the brain
  • EEG, or electroencephalography, to see brain waves/electrical activity in the brain
  • wada testing, which uses medicine injected through an artery into the brain to look at which side of the brain controls language and memory. Nowadays, this has largely been replaced with functional MRI, which is less invasive, but requires the child to do a language and memory task.
  • electrical brain mapping, where electrodes are placed on or inside the brain during the first part of a two-part surgery. This shows where seizures happen and what the nearby parts of the brain do. Sometimes, this is done all in one stage rather than two.

Resective surgery, the most common epilepsy surgery, is the removal of a small portion of the brain. The surgeon cuts out brain tissues in the area of the brain where seizures originate, usually the site of a tumor, brain injury or malformation.  Around 70% of people (7 in 10 people) who have temporal lobe surgery find that the surgery stops their seizures and they become seizure-free, and for a further 20% (1 in 5 people) their seizures are reduced.

Recovery varies based on the person and type of procedure. You can expect to stay in the hospital for 3 to 7 days after epilepsy surgery. Most people can resume their regular activities 2 to 8 weeks after surgery.

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