Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders

Highly Specialized Care of Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders

Loyola Medicine is proud to offer a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy and seizure disorders.  Designated as a Level 3 epilepsy center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC), Loyola offers high-level specialized epilepsy care to adults and children as young as 2 years of age.  

In the United States, more than 2 million people have epilepsy and one in 26 people will develop it at some point in their lifetime. Epilepsy is most often diagnosed in children and people older than 55. With epilepsy and seizure disorders, the brain experiences erratic electrical impulses that lead to abnormal movements or behavior.

Learning that you or a loved one has epilepsy or a seizure disorder can be difficult. Loyola is committed to providing comprehensive care throughout your diagnosis and treatment. Loyola’s team includes neuropsychologists and social work staff to complement noninvasive therapeutic plans, as well as neurosurgeons to perform the latest surgical techniques.

Why Choose Loyola for Treatment of Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders?

Loyola's neurology and neurosurgery departments are rated high performing by U.S News & World Report. In addition, Loyola offers pediatric and adult epileptologist consultations using state-of-the-art neuroimaging and electrodiagnostic technology to identify and assess complex seizure disorders through short and long-term monitoring.
 
As an academic medical center, Loyola provides exceptional care in an academic setting, training future leaders in neurology and neurosurgery. Loyola’s Epilepsy Center is staffed by epileptologists who have completed a specialized epilepsy fellowship or are board-certified neurologists with secondary board certification in clinical neurophysiology. 

Loyola’s neuro intensive care unit is equipped with continuous EEG and video monitoring for adults and children and is staffed by certified technologists and trained neurology nurses who have earned Magnet status.

What are the Different Types of Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders?

Seizures are broken down into two groups: primary generalized seizures and partial seizures. With primary generalized seizures, the brain experiences abnormal electrical activity on both sides of the brain.  With partial seizures, erratic electrical signals start in one area of brain. 

People with epilepsy experience repeated, unpredictable seizures. Having one seizure does not mean that you have epilepsy. Your epilepsy doctor can tell you about the type of seizures you may have had, which may be one of the following:

  • Absence (petit mal) seizure — A loss of consciousness that appears to be a staring spell
  • Atonic seizure — Loss of muscle tone
  • Clonic seizure — Muscle stiffness and rigidity
  • Generalized tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure – A loss of consciousness with muscle convulsions and rigidity
  • Myoclonic seizure — Sporadic jerking movements; may occur in children

Patients with epilepsy may experience more than one type of seizure. Usually the seizure is similar to the one before it.

Epilepsy may be due to a medical condition or brain injury, or the cause may be unknown, in which case it is called idiopathic. Common causes of epilepsy include:

  • Abnormal blood vessels in the brain
  • Brain injury during or near the time of birth
  • Congenital brain defect
  • Dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease
  • Infections, including a brain abscess, meningitis, encephalitis and HIV/AIDS
  • Metabolism disorders present at birth, such as phenylketonuria
  • Other illnesses that damage brain tissue
  • Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Traumatic brain injury

In certain cases, you may experience sleep-related epilepsy, which is often seen during a sleep study

How is Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders Diagnosed?

We offer the latest in neuroimaging and diagnostic technologies to identify and assess complex seizure disorders with short- and long-term monitoring.  Your evaluation may include:

  • Ambulatory EEG
  • EEG (electroencephalography)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Neuropsychological testing
  • PET scan (positron emission tomography)
  • SPECT scan (single-photon emission computed tomography)

Treatment Options for Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders

Loyola Medicine offers the latest drug therapies and medical and surgical techniques to treat epilepsy and seizure disorders.

For example, patients with severe and difficult-to-treat epilepsy may benefit from VNS, or vagus nerve stimulation. This is a pacemaker-like device that is implanted near the vagus nerve in the neck that intermittently stimulates the nerve to decrease the severity and frequency of seizures. Other options include neuromodulation, such as responsive neurostimulation or RNS®, and deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Neurosurgical treatment options for epilepsy include inpatient intraoperative monitoring, in which an electrode grid is placed on the patient’s cerebral cortex to determine the extent and source of the seizures.

Ongoing Research and Clinical Trials to Improve Treatment of Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders

As an academic medical center, Loyola Medicine is dedicated to improving future treatments by conducting research on new medications and protocols. Loyola’s patients benefit our research discoveries; read about Loyola’s current clinical trials.