Our neurologists provide expert diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management of seizures using the latest techniques and therapies.
Why choose UPMC in Central Pa. for seizure or epilepsy treatment?
At UPMC in Central Pa., our staff includes epileptologists who are board-certified in neurology and fellowship trained in treating seizures. Our epileptologists are committed to offering the latest treatments to help you manage the physical and emotional aspects of epilepsy.
Our neurology and neurosurgery specialists also understand that seizures affect each person differently. That's why we deliver an accurate diagnosis and create a personalized treatment plan that uses the latest therapies to control seizures and improve your quality of life.
In addition to offering the most advanced treatment options for epilepsy and seizures, our specialists work closely with other health care providers, such as nurse navigators, radiologists, registered dietitians, and rehabilitation therapists, to coordinate your care and connect you with the additional services you need.
Diagnostic Tests for Seizures and Epilepsy
After reviewing your medical history and symptoms, your doctor may order or perform several tests to diagnose epilepsy or a seizure, including:
- Neurological exam. During a neurological exam, your doctor will evaluate your thinking and memory skills, as well as your balance, motor skills, and reflexes.
- Imaging tests. Your doctor may order imaging exams, such as an X-ray, MRI, PET, or CT scan, to check for problems.
Top views of the brain show normal tissue and abnormal tissue ) that causes seizures.
- Blood tests. Blood tests can rule out other medical conditions that may cause seizures.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG). An EEG test uses electrodes attached to your scalp to record the electrical activity of your brain. EEG tests can help your doctor determine what kind of seizures you are having. For your convenience, our specialists perform diagnostic EEG tests in our office.
An EEG may be done to study seizures, study sleep disorders, or help find the location of a tumor, an infection, or bleeding. An EEG technologist attaches a cap with fixed electrodes on your head. (An EEG can also be done without a cap by using several individual electrodes.) The electrodes are hooked by wires to a machine that records the electrical activity inside the brain. The machine shows the electrical activity as a series of wavy lines on a computer screen.
- Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU). The EMU brings together specially trained experts in technology and patient care specific to individuals with seizure activity. This inpatient unit at Harrisburg Hospital is designed to evaluate and diagnose seizures in the adult patient population.
- Rapid Acquisition EEG Brain Monitoring. Available at UPMC Harrisburg and UPMC Memorial, this program allows providers to triage non-convulsive seizures within five minutes. An alert system allows for automatic monitoring and rapid identification of harmful brain patterns. Physicians are also able to remotely review the EEG in real-time and assess response to treatment. This new technology increases diagnostic accuracy, treatment, and prevention of refractory and difficult-to-treat seizures.
Treatments for Epilepsy and Seizures
Your specific treatment will depend on the type of seizures you are having and where the seizures begin in your brain. Depending on your condition, your doctor may recommend one or more treatments, including:
- Medications. Your doctor may recommend one or more anti-seizure or anti-epileptic medications to prevent seizures or reduce the frequency and intensity of your seizures.
- Surgery. If medications are not effectively controlling your seizures, your doctor may recommend having a surgical consult to discuss advanced surgical options, such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic condition that causes repeated, unprovoked seizures. The seizures are caused by bursts of electrical activity in the brain that aren't normal. Seizures may cause problems with muscle control, movement, speech, vision, or awareness. They usually don't last very long, but they can be scary. The good news is there are many ways to manage epilepsy and reduce or eliminate seizures.
Are Seizures and Epilepsy the Same?
No. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, an epileptic seizure is a transient occurrence of signs and/or symptoms due to abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain. Epilepsy is a disease characterized by an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures and by the neurobiological, cognitive, psychological, and social consequences of this condition. In other words: a seizure is an event and epilepsy is the disease involving recurrent unprovoked seizures.
What are the symptoms of epilepsy?
The main symptom of epilepsy is seizures, but seizure symptoms can vary depending on the type of seizure you have. Common seizure symptoms include:
- Staring blankly for a few seconds
- Involuntary twitching of arms and legs
- Temporary confusion
- Loss of consciousness or awareness
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, a person is considered to have epilepsy if they meet any of the following conditions:
- At least two unprovoked (or reflex) seizures occurring greater than 24 hours apart.
- One unprovoked (or reflex) seizure and a probability of further seizures similar to the general recurrence risk (at least 60%) after two unprovoked seizures, occurring over the next 10 years.
- Diagnosis of an epilepsy syndrome
- Epilepsy is considered to be resolved for individuals who had an age-dependent epilepsy syndrome but are now past the applicable age or those who have remained seizure-free for the last 10 years, with no seizure medicines for the last 5 years.
Who is at risk for epilepsy?
Anyone can develop epilepsy. It affects men and women of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds. However, genetic factors, head injuries and conditions that affect the brain, such as stroke, meningitis, dementia, brain tumors, and viral encephalitis, may increase your risk of developing epilepsy.
How can I prevent epilepsy?
There is nothing you can do to prevent epilepsy.
Need more information?
Contact the office below that is most convenient to you.