With right treatment, most epilepsy patients can live normal lives

Epilepsy dictionary definition

Treatment and management of epilepsy continues to evolve and improve. With the right diagnosis and treatment, most patients can live a normal life. 

We have made great advancements in epilepsy treatment over the last 20 years with more medications, advanced diagnostic tests and more precise surgical techniques.

While the treatment of epilepsy has made great strides, awareness of this unpredictable disease has not kept pace. It is still not uncommon for people with epilepsy to be misdiagnosed with something else.

Having Uncontrollable Seizures?
Get evaluated by the experts. To make an appointment with one of our epilepsy specialists at the Nebraska Medical Center campus or our new clinic in Bellevue, call 800.922.0000. Visit us online to learn more at NebraskaMed.com/Neuroloigcal-care/Epilepsy.

Epilepsy is estimated to occur in as many as 20,000 individuals in Nebraska. Depending on what part of the brain the seizure is originating from, it can trigger different types of symptoms. These include symptoms ranging from involuntarily screaming, laughing inappropriately, falling to the ground in convulsions, to less noticeable symptoms such as falling into an unconscious stare or state of confusion and not remembering what happened during the incident.

Arun Swaminathan, MD, epilepsy specialist

As a result, the more subtle seizures are sometimes misdiagnosed as a small stroke, depression, anxiety or hallucinations. That’s why it’s very important to come to an experienced epilepsy center like ours to ensure you receive the correct diagnosis. The type and combination of drugs prescribed for each individual depends on the specific type of epilepsy and its point of origin in the brain.

Early diagnosis and treatment is also important to prevent the disease from progressing and causing long-term side effects. Untreated, recurrent seizures can cause progressive changes to the epileptic networks in the brain and worsen seizures over time.

The Nebraska Epilepsy Center, the only comprehensive epilepsy center of its type in the region, diagnoses and treats epilepsy patients from children to adults, using some of the most advanced diagnostic and treatment tools available.

One of these tools is the MEG scanner, which uses magnetic fields generated by the brain’s neuronal activity to detect seizure activity with greater detail and accuracy than previous testing tools. By allowing doctors to identify exactly where the brain is malfunctioning, the MEG improves doctors’ ability to diagnose and treat the disorder with the appropriate medications and provides greater surgical precision when removing the lesion becomes necessary.

Using the appropriate medications can make a significant difference in managing seizures. Sixty to 70 percent of patients can become seizure-free on the proper medications. The remaining 30 to 35 percent will need surgery combined with medications.

I specialize in brain surgery to treat epilepsy for these more complex cases. This includes less invasive laser procedures to destroy the parts of the brain that are triggering the seizures; open surgery to remove the seizure trigger points; as well as surgery that involves implanting a computer chip into the brain or neck to detect and prevent seizures.

The future continues to look promising for epilepsy. Treatments continue to improve and there are many new medications and therapies on the horizon.