Epilepsy Treatment

Medical epilepsy treatment

Most patients' seizures can be controlled with modern anti-seizure medications. Henry Ford holds a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Master Contract for the newest anti-seizure medication trials and participates in ongoing pharmaceutical drug trials for experimental and established medical therapies.

Surgical epilepsy treatment

For epilepsy patients who do not benefit from medication, state-of-the-art diagnostic studies are used to pinpoint the tissue location in the brain causing the seizures. For some of these patients, surgical removal of the identified brain tissue may be their best hope for a seizure-free life.

The Henry Ford team has the largest epilepsy surgical practice in the state of Michigan. Surgical outcomes for temporal lobe epilepsy, the most common type, show more than 80 percent reduction in seizures in more than 90 percent of patients, and complete elimination of seizures in the great majority.

For patients with seizures caused by a brain tumor or scar tissue, surgery to remove the tumor or identified tissue eliminates the seizures in most cases. The Henry Ford epilepsy surgery team provides intraoperative language and motor mapping of the brain to preserve vital functions for each patient.

Surgical interventions include:

  • Focal resection - Seizures in the temporal, parietal, frontal or occipital lobes may be treated surgically if the seizure-producing area can be safely removed without damaging vital functions.
  • Corpus Callosotomy - Separating the nerve bridge that connects the two halves of the brain confines the epileptic discharge, reducing generalized seizures.
  • Functional Hemispherectomy - A hemispherectomy to remove all or almost all of one side of the brain may be performed. While it seems impossible that someone could function with only half a brain, the half that remains takes over many of the functions of the half that was removed.

Neurostimulation Therapies

When medication is not effective and surgical intervention is not an option, Henry Ford's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center offers the latest neurostimulation therapies.

FDA-approved Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) involves surgical implantation of a medical device, in select individuals. The device is implanted just beneath the collar bone; an under-skin cable connects the device to the vagus nerve in the neck. The device delivers electrical impulses to the vagus nerve intermittently to reduce seizures.

The Cortical Nerve Implant device is currently in clinical trial at Henry Ford and other major centers in the United States. This device works the same way as the VNS device, but the electrical impulses are delivered to the superficial or deeper regions of the brain instead of the vagus nerve.

Henry Ford was the only center in Michigan to offer the RNS System under clinical investigation. Although the RNS study is in the final phase of completion and will require extensive analysis by the FDA prior to approval, we remain cautiously hopeful that this may be a treatment option in the near future.

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