Intractable Epilepsy

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The highly skilled medical team at Le Bonheur’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Program has advanced knowledge and experience to provide expert treatment for intractable epilepsy.

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What is intractable epilepsy?
Intractable epilepsy is a form of epilepsy where seizures cannot be controlled by medication.

What is the treatment for intractable epilepsy?
Some children with intractable epilepsy are put on a ketogenic diet. This is a very strict diet that's high in fats and low in carbohydrates and protein. This diet produces a by-product in the body called ketones. High concentrations of ketones can control seizures.

The most common treatment for intractable epilepsy is surgery. There are four major types of epilepsy surgery:

  • Resective surgery. The part of the brain that causes seizures is removed. This often cures epilepsy.
  • Corpus callosotomy. The nerve fibers between the two sides of the brain are severed (cut). This interrupts the spread of seizures from one side of the brain to the other. The result is that seizures become less severe.
  • Vagus nerve stimulation. A small device called a vagus nerve stimulator is implanted beneath the skin of the chest. A thin wire that's attached to the device electrically shocks the vagus nerve in the neck. This has been shown to stop or reduce the severity of seizures.
  • Hemispherectomy. One side of the brain is removed or disabled. This surgery is performed only if seizures have not responded to medications and other types of surgeries.

Why Le Bonheur Children's?
The epilepsy team at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center includes some of the most respected pediatric epilepsy specialists in the United States. The hospital's Comprehensive Epilepsy Program is a key component of the hospital's Neuroscience Institute, a center of excellence dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of neurological disorders in children and adolescents. Children from across the country visit Le Bonheur each year to be treated at the Institute.