Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which the patient experiences repeated, unpredictable seizures, or episodes of disturbed brain activity that cause changes in attention or behavior. Epilepsy may be a result of a medical condition or brain injury or an unknown cause. Seizures due to a tumor, abnormal blood vessels, or bleeding in the brain may be surgically treated. For other patients, medication to prevent seizures, called anticonvulsants, may reduce the number of seizures a experiences. Epilepsy that does not improve with anti-seizure drugs is called medically refractory epilepsy.Surgery to remove abnormal brain cells causing seizures may be helpful for some patients. For other patients, surgery to place a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) may be recommended. This device, which is similar to a heart pacemaker, may help reduce the number of seizures experienced by patients.
PET and SPECT are highly accurate methods of pinpointing areas of the brain causing epileptic seizures and for evaluating surgery as a treatment option.