UI Health: Expertise in Epilepsy Diagnosis and Management

Monday, November 4, 2019

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurologic disorders, affecting up to 1% of the population in the United States. The chronic medical condition is characterized by recurrent seizures known as epileptic seizures - an event of altered brain function caused by abnormal or excessive electrical discharges from brain cells. People living with epilepsy have the challenge of finding access to the right kind of treatment that works for them and helps to manage the disease.

UI Health is accredited as a Level 3 Epilepsy Center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers for expertise in evaluating, monitoring, and treating patients with complex epilepsy.

"Our Epilepsy Program is comprised of epileptologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, and neuroradiologists all working together to provide individualized treatment and management plans for every patient," says Dr. Anna Serafini, medical director of the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) at UI Health. "We are dedicated to helping patients with epilepsy live their daily lives to the fullest."

Proper diagnosis of epilepsy syndrome will help determine the best course of treatment or medication management. Typical testing for epilepsy and other seizure disorders consists of the following:

  • Advanced neuroimaging (Epilepsy Protocol MRI, Functional MRI, PET, SPECT)
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) testing, including video EEG
  • Neuropsychological evaluation
  • Genetic testing

"When epilepsy is diagnosed, it is important to begin treatment as quickly as possible," says Dr. Serafini. "Our specialists work together to create a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan that may include medications and dietary and surgical solutions.

"Medicines can control seizures in about 70 percent of epilepsy patients. For patients with uncontrollable epilepsy, epilepsy surgery can provide a 'cure' by eliminating the source of seizures and epilepsy," she adds.

UI Health's Epilepsy Monitoring Unit uses the latest technology to diagnose epilepsy. The state-of-the-art equipment allows  the team of epilepsy specialists to monitor brain activity and to record seizures, leading to more accurate epilepsy diagnosis and management.

Dr. Serafini also leads a dedicated clinic for women with epilepsy. Epilepsy in women brings many issues that need to be addressed and discussed: Epilepsy and seizure drugs may affect birth control, hormone levels, and the female reproductive cycle, and seizures and medications also can have an effect on pregnancy. Dr. Serafini works closely with patients' primary care physicians and OB/GYNs to provide comprehensive care for all women with epilepsy.

"More than 1 million women have a seizure disorders and can benefit from a comprehensive evaluation with a neurologist trained in the treatment of women's epilepsy," says Dr. Serafini.  

Visit the Epilepsy Program at UI Health to learn more.