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Potential Of Epilepsy Surgeries Are Not Fully Harnessed Say Brain Specialists

specializes in complicated cases, says a frustrated Gumnit.

That may not sound like many seizures, but it means the people can't drive or perform certain jobs. "It's not the burning issue it ought to be," adds Dr. Jerome Engel of the University of California, Los Angeles. There is a major push to get youngsters, especially those with severe epilepsy, to the operating room sooner.

The reason? If two medications fail to control epilepsy at any age there's only a slight chance a third will help, according to recent research. Even worse, years of seizures can harm a child's development, sometimes permanently.

A Cleveland Clinic study in the journal Pediatrics this month is among the first to examine surgery on children younger than 3, and found that even among patients that young, earlier surgery predicted a better chance of normal development.

Yet, not everyone is eligible for surgery. Seizures may originate in a spot that can't be removed safely. In this case, the options are: Deep-brain stimulation Major studies are beginning to see if implanting an electrode that emits a low-level electrical current could zap the bad brain tissue and stop seizures as they form. It is already used to control tremors in Parkinson's disease. Vagus nerve stimulator Doctors also sometimes implant a 'Vagus nerve stimulator' which delivers tiny shocks to a nerve in the neck that in turn signals the brain. It doesn't cure epilepsy like surgery can, but can reduce some patients' seizures. Also under study is beaming the seizure spot with radiation, using a technique called the Gamma Knife.


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