Epilepsy is characterized by disturbances of electrical activity in the brain, causing seizures (convulsions). Epilepsy is the 4th most common neurological disorder and affects about 1% of the population. Persons with epilepsy have permanent changes in brain tissue that may be a result of injury, infection, abnormal growths, metabolic disorders, or for unknown reasons. Sometimes children with epilepsy are placed on special diets. Anti-seizure medication can control symptoms in most patients, but about one-third of patients suffer from drug-resistant epilepsy, in which seizures are not fully controlled by medicine alone. Since seizures are unpredictable, frequently embarrassing, and prohibit driving, many people with epilepsy may withdraw from otherwise enjoyable activities. Surgery to remove epileptic brain areas may be helpful in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. Alternatively, an implanted medical device may reduce seizures by providing mild electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve or structures within the brain.

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Reviewed March 18, 2018
Chengyuan Wu, MD, MSBmE
Member, International Neuromodulation Society
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Department of Neurosurgery
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Last Updated on Monday, November 22, 2021 11:02 AM