Lobectomy is the most common operation for epilepsy. During this procedure, a neurosurgeon removes the portion of one temporal lobe that is causing the seizures. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, and the recovery time in the hospital is usually 24 hours. Much of the brain can be operated on without causing any permanent neurologic deficits. However, there are a few very important areas that cannot be removed without causing loss of certain functions, such as weakness, decreased sensation in part of the body, or difficulty with speaking or vision. These areas can be mapped out in the brain with a technique called cortical mapping. It involves sending small amounts of electrical current through electrodes on the surface of the brain across one centimeter at a time. If stimulating a certain location causes any symptoms, doctors know that removal of this area may cause a deficit. This information helps to map out exactly what part of the brain can be safely removed in surgery, and what part should be avoided.
UAB Medicine is home to some of the nation’s most experienced epilepsy specialists, with expertise in all types of epilepsy. Our neurologists and neurosurgeons work together to develop care plans that are personalized to each patient. Our history of innovative patient care in diagnosing, treating, and managing this condition helped the UAB Epilepsy Center achieve a Level IV Center designation – the highest available – from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.
The UAB Epilepsy Center uses advanced imaging technology to evaluate patients. UAB Medicine is the only medical center in Birmingham that offers such a wide range of technology, including:
- Magnetoencephalopathy (MEG)-based magnetic source imaging
- High-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Combined EEG and functional MRI
- Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning
For people who are born with epilepsy or develop it in their youth, the process of moving to adult care can be challenging. Our Epilepsy Transition Clinic works closely with the UAB STEP Program to make that process easier and help patients who have multiple chronic conditions. This team is comprised of pediatric and adult neurologists who are board-certified in epilepsy, as well as social workers, a mental health liaison, and a transition coordinator. The transition program includes regularly scheduled clinic visits and assistance in preparing pediatric patients for adult care.
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