Affecting more than 3 million Americans of all ages, epilepsy is a chronic brain disorder involving multiple, spontaneous seizures of any type, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.
Seizures may involve a part of the body (partial) or the entire body (generalized) and are sometimes accompanied by a loss of consciousness and control of bowel or bladder function. Seizures can be as simple as lapses of attention or muscle jerks, to severe and prolonged convulsions.
Epileptic episodes are a result of disturbed brain function that causes changes in attention or behavior. Abnormally excited electrical discharges in a group of brain cells can lead to these brain disturbances.
In collaboration with the Mount Sinai Epilepsy Center, the Center for Neuromodulation provides patients with chronic epilepsy neurosurgical options when medications fail to relieve any associated, severe symptoms.
What causes Epilepsy?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 60 percent of those with epilepsy have idiopathic epilepsy, which has no known cause although research suggests there are genetic factors at play.
Epilepsy may also result as a symptom of several conditions, or be linked to problems in the brain, such as:
Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Epilepsy
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that almost 80 percent of those with epilepsy can control their symptoms successfully with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).
The remaining 20 percent suffer from intractable epilepsy, or seizures that fail to respond successfully to pharmacologic therapy.
For those patients with chronic, intractable seizures who have not responded well to conventional medical therapies (such as anti-seizure medications), epileptic surgery may be recommended. The Center for Neuromodulation provides vagus nerve stimulation, an advanced neurosurgical treatment for this condition that can show promising results for the right patient. Vagus nerve stimulation may be an option for patients who are not candidates for traditional epilepsy surgery because the area of the brain in which their seizures originate is responsible for a critical function, such as language or movement.
Approved in 1997 by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), vagus nerve stimulation involves the implantation of stimulators under the skin near the vagus nerve, which is located around the neck. Similar to a pacemaker of the heart, these stimulators send signals to the brain that help to interrupt oncoming seizures.
For a comprehensive evaluation, call the Center for Neuromodulation at the Department of Neurosurgery at 212-241-0050.