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Epilepsy Program: Surgical treatments FAQ

What types of surgeries are available to treat epilepsy?

Surgical options in epilepsy treatment at the UCI Health Comprehensive Epilepsy Program include resective surgery and palliative surgery.

In resective surgery, which may include amygdalohippocampectomy, the portion of brain tissue that triggers a person's seizures is removed. Some cases require preparatory surgical placement of specialized electrodes on the brain to help precisely identify the abnormal area generating seizures. These also monitor and map areas of vital brain functions, such as motor, sensory and language control.

Our epilepsy surgical specialists use advanced imaging technologies such as video electroencephalograms, functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) and the BodyTom computed tomography (CT) scan to identify the dysfunctional brain tissue and remove it — while sparing adjacent tissues that control vital brain and body functions.

Palliative surgery involves a variety of procedures intended to reduce the severity and frequency of seizures. Examples include implantation of a vagus nerve stimulator and a procedure called corpus callosotomy, which involves surgically splitting the bundle of nerve fibers that connect the hemispheres of the brain.

What is the typical outcome for patients after epilepsy surgery?

About 60 percent to 70 percent of patients who undergo resective epilepsy surgery — removing the portion of the brain responsible for the seizures — become seizure-free.

Even after a surgery, patients may remain on medication for one to two years before the dosage is gradually reduced.

Palliative surgery, including vagus nerve stimulator implantation, has been effective in reducing the number of seizures.

How long does it take to be approved for surgery?

Surgery can be scheduled as soon as possible after evaluations and pre-operative work-ups are completed, provided there is no problem with insurance coverage. 

Will my insurance cover the surgery?

Most of the time, insurance covers surgical procedures that are determined to be a medical necessity. 

What distinguishes the UCI Health epilepsy program from other programs?

The UCI Health Comprehensive Epilepsy Program is one of only 60 certified Level 4 epilepsy programs in the nation. As the only university-based epilepsy program in Orange County, our highly trained, multidisciplinary team of physicians has unparalleled experience in diagnosing epilepsy and tailoring therapies to suit each individual patient’s needs.

We also provide unsurpassed diagnostic testing and surgical facilities. Our state-of-the-art techniques and equipment ensure patient safety and help us achieve the best possible treatment outcomes.

We offer special accommodations to meet the unique needs of epilepsy patients. This includes a sophisticated epilepsy inpatient unit that allows video monitoring of seizures under continuous supervision by our staff of healthcare professionals.

What truly sets us apart is our team, which is comprised of dedicated healthcare professionals who share a common vision and passion to improve the quality of life of people affected by epilepsy.

For more information or to make an appointment, please call us at 714-456-6203 or request an appointment online.

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