By: Jason Chen, MD, Neurologist, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare
You may be familiar with the word “seizure,” however “epilepsy” may not ring a bell. Although it’s the fourth most common neurological disease in the United States, it’s often overshadowed by other neurological conditions and disorders.
Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder (neurological disorder) where nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disrupted, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and sometimes loss of consciousness.
In honor of Epilepsy Awareness Month in November, we’re identifying those advancements that could help treat epilepsy.
Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has been used in the treatment of epilepsy as early as 4000 BC. Although there is conflicting reports regarding the effects of cannabis in seizure treatment, recent relaxation on legal restrictions have heightened popular interest. Most studies have shown that cannabis may be safe in the short-term use as an adjunct epilepsy therapy.
Magnetic Resonance Guided Stereotactic Laser Ablation (MRGSLA) is a non-invasive procedure monitored under a real-time MRI scanner, which purposefully disables deep brain lesions that are the source of seizure onset. The advantage of MRGSLA over other methods include the ability to monitor an otherwise blind surgical procedure in real-time, immediate ablation without known delayed effects, the option of avoiding general anesthesia and a short post-surgical hospital stay, typically without need of intensive care. Additional research is needed to determine the effectiveness of this procedure.
Responsive Neurostimulation (RNS) is an FDA-approved small battery-operated device implanted in the patient’s skull. RNS is similar to a cardiac automated difibrillator that detects abnormal arrhythmias (i.e. cerebral seizure activities) and generates stimuli to stop them. The pre-operative evaluations of RNS include extensive diagnostic tests, including an MRI scan, a nuclear medicine scan and an intracranial electrode recording to determine what causes an epileptic attack.
To learn more about epilepsy, visit TMH.ORG/Neuro. To contact the Tallahassee Memorial Epilepsy Resource Center, which provides epilepsy patients and their families with a wealth of knowledge in a comfortable and welcoming space, please call 850-222-1777.