Tracey - posted on 05/22/2009 ( 2 moms have responded )
There are a number of reasons for considering brain surgery as an option to controlling seizures.
Approximately 1/3 of the people with seizure disorders never gain control of their seizures through medication. Although still not that common, as people are becoming more aware of it, brain surgery is now being looked upon as another option. And with an 80% success rate, surgery is being used more and more all the time.
Pre-surgery evaluation for seizure disorders (epilepsy) consists of patients being monitored through a video camera while in hospital. These patients are then hooked up to an electroencephalogram (known as an EEG) and doctors will attempt to increase a person's seizure activity for the purpose of evaluation. Seizures are generally induced by gradually reducing an individual’s medication. The EEG is then used to log the brain activity/brain waves/patterns during the seizures. The EEG is kept on for the entire evaluation (24 hours/day), except for things like, showering.
Unless there is a recent MRI on file, one will be done to try to determine cause and/or location of where the seizure activity is stemming from in the brain. An MRI (called Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a special scan that allows specialists to take pictures that will see deeper areas of the brain. Depending on the individual circumstances further testing may be required.
Sometimes causing increased seizure activity isn't that easy; therefore gathering the information needed to determine eligibility is sometimes difficult. If seizure activity isn't increasing then doctors will sometimes give the patient the choice of having a procedure using electrodes. This is when 2 small holes are made to insert 2 thin metal rods into the top of the head. As much as this sounds unpleasant, these rods can help doctors to gain very useful information when other methods aren't working.
No one can determine how long this evaluation/prep work will take. And an evaluation does not guarantee eligibility for surgery. Unfortunately sometimes some individuals have to be turned down due to the risks involved. But every bit of information a patient or family member can provide with regards to a patient’s seizure history will be helpful to the professionals. And, at the end of the evaluation, a team of doctors will take the information they have gathered from the various tests and use the results to determine eligibility for brain surgery.
Since it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, make sure you know what to expect from your doctors and your hospital. This will help prepare you and your family for what’s to come.To find out more information about brain surgery, check with your local Epilepsy Agency, or nearest hospital specializing in neuro treatment. Or, ask your doctor to refer you to a neurologist for further evaluation.
Tracey Alderson, President of the Board of Directors, (2005-2009)
Administrator, Epilepsy Awareness 2009