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Treatment Options at the UPMC Comprehensive Epilepsy Center

The goal of epilepsy treatment is seizure freedom without side effects.

Medications help stop seizures in about two-thirds of people with epilepsy. For those whose seizures don’t stop after trying two appropriate epilepsy drugs, surgery may be the best choice.

    » To make an appointment or learn more, call the UPMC Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at 833-299-4320.

Epilepsy Medications

There are more than 25 different drugs to treat seizures.

The exact one your doctor prescribes will depend on the type(s) of seizures you have and other factors like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Adverse side effects from certain drugs
  • General health

When you first start a seizure medication, your doctor will likely prescribe a low dose and increase it slowly.

It's vital that you take your medicine exactly as prescribed. Also, never suddenly change or stop taking it without talking to your doctor first.

Epilepsy Surgery

One-third of people with epilepsy have seizures that drugs can't control. Doctors call these cases “intractable,” “uncontrolled,” or “drug-resistant” epilepsy.

If you’ve tried two or more seizure drugs that didn’t help, you should visit an epilepsy center. The chances of you becoming seizure-free with other medications are very low, but you might be a candidate for epilepsy surgery.

The goal of surgery is to pinpoint the part of the brain causing seizures. Your doctor will then remove, ablate, or adjust that part of the brain to stop or reduce your seizures.

Common types of epilepsy surgery

Less common surgeries for epilepsy include multiple subpial transections (MST) and corpus callosotomy.

Learn more about neurosurgery for epilepsy.

Reasons you may need to have epilepsy surgery

You may want to talk to your doctor about epilepsy surgery if your:

  • Drugs fail to make you seizure-free (intractable epilepsy).
  • Seizure drugs cause intolerable side effects.
  • MRI showed an abnormality of your brain structure, regardless of whether drugs control your seizures.

At UPMC, we offer Surgical Alternatives for Epilepsy (SAFE) counseling.

SAFE lets you talk to an epilepsy surgeon early on — before making any treatment decisions — about the role of brain surgery.

Even if you're not thinking about brain surgery right now, SAFE can be helpful. Meeting the surgeon doesn’t mean you commit to or accept surgery as a treatment for your epilepsy.

We're happy to meet with you more than once about the surgical process. We want to make sure you have all the details you need to choose the best treatment for you.

Contact the UPMC Comprehensive Epilepsy Center

To make an appointment or learn more about epilepsy care, call 833-299-4320.

Kaufmann Medical Building
3471 Fifth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213