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Epilepsy Program

Comprehensive Vision of Clinical Care | Care Team | EEG Monitoring Services | Surgical Treatment | Patient and Community Support | Research | For More Information

Epilepsy is a disorder involving repeated seizures, or episodes of disturbed brain function that cause changes in attention and/or behavior. Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical excitation in the brain. Epileptic seizures can be related to a temporary condition such as exposure to drugs, withdrawal from certain drugs or abnormal levels of sodium or glucose in the blood. In these cases repeated seizures may be prevented when the underlying problems are corrected.

The epilepsy program at NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) provides advanced knowledge and treatment options in an academic medical center setting. As a National Association of Epilepsy Centers Level 3 accredited Epilepsy Center, we meet the highest standards in the field. We work to develop a tailored treatment plan for every patient and offer the latest approaches including epilepsy clinical trials. Children and teens with epilepsy are treated by specialists in our Pediatric Neurology and Epilepsy Program

Most importantly, our patients and their loved ones are attended by a cohesive team of experts from a variety of disciplines. Our specialists combine their best knowledge to provide comprehensive care and a personalized epilepsy treatment plan. We aim to provide superior access, service and care coordination through teamwork, integration and collaboration.

Comprehensive Vision of Clinical Care

Epilepsy is a complex disease that affects each patient differently. Some patients may respond well to the first anti-epileptic medication [C1] they’re ever prescribed, while some may require more complex medical management or additional intervention such as surgery.

At NorthShore Neurological Institute, we’ve designed an Epilepsy Program to assess each patient’s needs and develop the best possible treatment plan. We offer access to a comprehensive set of services for patients, including:

  • Care coordination through our award-winning electronic medical record system
  • Clinical research
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring
  • Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)
  • Specially trained epilepsy staff
  • Surgery
  • Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS)
  • Responsive Neurostimulation

Your Care Team

NorthShore Neurological Institute takes a multidisciplinary approach to epilepsy treatment. Our integrated team puts patients and families at the center of a complete and compassionate healthcare plan. We collaborate with each other through face to face interactions and by utilizing one of the most advanced electronic medical records systems in the country to ensure a seamless patient experience.

Your epilepsy program care team may include:

  • Staff epileptologist (neurologist with special training in epilepsy)
  • Neurosurgeon
  • Nurse specialist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Interventional neuroradiologist
  • Neurophysiologist
  • Technologist
  • Social Worker
  • Nutritionist  

EEG Monitoring Services

EEG monitoring has proven to be a crucial analytical tool for epilepsy management. NorthShore utilizes four functions of EEG monitoring:

Intracranial Electrocorticographic Monitoring (ECoG): During ECoG, electrodes are placed directly on the exposed surface of the brain to record electrical activity and localize epileptogenic zones. This is typically used for pre-surgical planning in patients whose seizures could not be localized by EEG. We also perform stereo EEG mapping.

ICU Monitoring: Patients are monitored at the bedside with continuous EEG in the ICU. The study lasts from 24 hours to a few days and is done in patients who have unexplained altered mental status and in whom clinically undetected epileptic seizures need to be ruled out.

Ambulatory EEG Monitoring: Patients are monitored up to 72 hours at home with a special recorder. Ambulatory EEGs are used to see longer recordings during prolonged periods of awake and asleep to diagnose epilepsy and determine what type of seizures are occurring.

Wada Testing

For patients considering surgery, some may undergo a pre-surgical evaluation known as the Wada test. Performed by epilepsy specialists, including epileptologists (neurologists specializing in epilepsy), neuroradiologists and neuropsychologists, this test helps determine which side of the brain controls language (which varies from individual to individual) and memory function.

Surgical Epilepsy Treatment

NorthShore offers the latest surgical alternatives for patients whose epileptic seizures cannot be controlled by medications. Surgical techniques provide additional treatment options for patients seeking relief from epileptic seizures and improved quality of life.

Neurological Institute neurosurgeons are experienced in the use of Visualase, an advanced laser thermal ablation technique. We routinely use the minimally-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided technique for surgically treating epilepsy patients. The stereotactic neurosurgical procedure involves inserting a thin laser fiber into the skull to precisely target areas of the brain causing seizures. Light energy from the laser heats the brain tissue, effectively destroying it. Upon removal of the laser applicator, only one stitch is needed to close the wound.

Our multidisciplinary team will coordinate preparation, care and epilepsy treatment to strive for the best possible outcomes for you and your family.

Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

NorthShore’s physicians are experts in Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS). VNS is a unique treatment that is delivered through an implanted device similar to a pacemaker that gives periodic stimulation to the brain that helps prevent or interrupt seizures. The device is implanted through a minimally invasive procedure and does not involve brain surgery.

NorthShore’s VNS program includes comprehensive care management, including support from a dedicated nurse coordinator.

Responsive Neurostimulation

Advances in implantable device technology continue to allow more precise detection of seizure activity to stop seizures at their source. At NorthShore, we offer the RNS® System from NeuroPace. Placed in the skull and hidden under the scalp, the neurostimulator targets areas of your brain where your particular seizures start. The RNS System is a reversible treatment that does not involve removing any brain tissue.

Neuropsychological Evaluation                                                                 

Epilepsy symptoms can include not only seizures but also changes in reasoning, mood and behavior that affect work, school and home life. Our experienced neuropsychology team provides complete neuropsychological evaluations that help establish a baseline for cognitive and emotional functioning so that changes can be monitored over time for epilepsy treatment planning. These assessments can also help determine seizure origin and predict cognitive outcome after surgical interventions for epilepsy. A formal evaluation involves assessment of memory, language, visual spatial skills, attention and motor abilities.

For more information about our neuropsychological evaluations, please call 847.425.6400.

Patient and Community Support

NorthShore collaborates with Epilepsy Foundation of America and provides a support group meeting as well as patient educational programs. For more information, please contact the Nurse Specialist for the Epilepsy Program at 847.570.2570.

Clinical Research

Research is an integral part of the NorthShore Epilepsy program and includes methods to predict and modify outcomes in epilepsy; pharmacogenomics and mechanisms of drug resistance; alternate treatments and various drug trials. View a full list of all available neurological clinical trials.

For More Information

Please call 877.570.7020 for more information on epilepsy symptoms and treatment or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.