Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain signals abnormally. This disruption in the brain may trigger seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and sometimes loss of consciousness.

Causes Of Epilepsy

Epilepsy has no definite cause in about 50% of the cases known, the other half can be identified by the following causes:

  • Genetic influence. Genes may play a part of the cause of epilepsy; certain genes may make a person more sensitive to environmental conditions that trigger seizures.
  • Head trauma.
  • Brain conditions. Brain tumors or strokes may cause epilepsy.
  • Infectious Diseases. Such as AIDS, meningitis, and viral encephalitis.
  • Prenatal Injury. Babies are sensitive to brain damage that could be caused by several factors, such as an infection in the mother, poor nutrition or oxygen deficiencies. This brain damage can result in epilepsy or cerebral palsy.
  • Developmental Disorders.


Diagnosis of Epilepsy

To diagnose epilepsy, the doctor will review your medical history, your symptoms, and confirm that you have had two or more seizures in a consecutive manner. The doctor will order several different tests to diagnose epilepsy and determine the cause of the seizures, these may include:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) – Electrodes will be attached to your scalp with a paste-like substance to record the electrical activity of your brain.
  • CT Scan (computerized tomography) – Using images of your brain through x-ray, this can reveal abnormalities in your brain, such as tumors, bleeding and cysts.
  • MRI Scan (magnetic resonance imaging) –Powerful magnets and radio waves to create a detailed view of your brain, may help to detect lesions or abnormalities in your brain.
  • Neuropsychological testing – Your doctor will make an assessment to determine which areas of your brain are being affected.

Treatment for Epilepsy

Epilepsy cannot be cured, but can be controlled by medication. Medication is often the first treatment used in a conservative manner. The medications are prescribed based on the type of seizures and epilepsy that has been diagnosed. Controlling seizures with medications may have a positive impact on the quality of life.

Surgery, performed by a neurosurgeon, may be needed if medication is not controlling the epilepsy. This surgery usually involves removing or resecting the abnormal area of the brain that is causing seizures. Those patients who are not surgical candidates may qualify for a vagus nerve stimulator, which helps control the onset of seizures.




This page is intended to be educational, but does not take the place of your physician or surgeon’s advice for your specific procedure or treatment. You should always consult with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

Call Michigan Head & Spine Institute at 248-784-3667.


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