Advanced Treatment Options for Children with Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
At the Pediatric Epilepsy Center at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, our experts use a variety of proven methods to treat young patients with seizure disorders. Because determining the right course of treatment is so important, our pediatric epilepsy team carefully considers the type of seizure disorder and each child’s unique needs when devising a treatment plan.
Some of the treatments options available at the Pediatric Epilepsy Center include:
In the U.S., there are more than 20 medications approved as treatment for seizures in adult patients, and many of those are also approved for children. Each of the medications has its own method of action that can be especially helpful in certain types of seizures.
Our team creates treatment plans to fit each child’s diagnosis and type of seizure, with a goal of helping patients achieve the best possible seizure control with the fewest side effects from medication.
Epilepsy surgery involves the safe removal of the part of the brain causing seizures. In recent years, epilepsy surgery has become a very safe and effective treatment method for some pediatric patients who do not respond to medications. A wide array of advanced surgical options means that our experts can find the therapy best suited to each individual patient with a focus on reducing complications and speeding healing time.
At the Pediatric Epilepsy Center, many experts come together to ensure successful surgical outcomes for our patients. Our multidisciplinary surgical team consists of:
- Pediatric epileptologists (physicians who specialize in epilepsy)
- Pediatric neurologists
- Pediatric epilepsy neurosurgeons
- Electroencephalography (EEG) technicians
- Pediatric anesthesiologists
- Pediatric intensive care physicians
- Pediatric pharmacists
- Social workers
The ketogenic diet is another treatment choice available for children who continue to have seizures, even though they take medication. The diet is based on the way that fat affects the activity of the brain. With the ketogenic diet, the recommended amount of calories per day for the child is the same, but the source of these calories is carefully and exactly measured: 90 percent fat, 5 percent carbohydrates and 5 percent protein.
Participation requires careful evaluation by the pediatric epilepsy team and nutrition specialists. Working together, they create meal plans geared to each child’s likes and dislikes, and provide follow-up care and laboratory test supervision. To be effective, guidelines must be strictly observed; therefore, families must be very committed while patients are on the diet.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)
The vagus nerve stimulator is a small battery-powered device, similar to a pacemaker, that is surgically placed in the upper left chest wall and attached to the left vagus nerve via two electrodes (thin wires). Once in place, the device sends electrical signals to the vagus nerve in a pattern that is selected by the patient’s epilepsy doctor and activated through a special hand-held computer. Depending on its usage, batteries must be replaced every three to five years. Current studies show that the VNS may decrease seizures by up to 50 percent in about half of patients using this therapy. VNS has also shown to be safe for patients age 12 years and older who have partial seizures but do not respond to medication and are not candidates for epilepsy surgery. No serious side effects from VNS have been reported. Parents are encouraged to speak with their child’s doctor about the risks, side effects and benefits of VNS.