Overcoming epilepsy

Pinpointing a cure through surgery

April 24, 2014
Ed Trapp, Overcoming epilepsy

Three years ago, Ed Trapp was driving home when he had a sudden, strange sensation of being lifted into the air. When the frightening incidents continued, Trapp's doctor suspected high blood pressure. Then one evening, the Hemet resident was talking to his wife in their living room — and woke up in an ambulance. He had experienced a grand mal seizure. At the ER, Trapp learned that the mysterious sensations he̕d been experiencing were also seizures. Trapp, 33, had epilepsy. 

One of the most common neurological disorders, epilepsy can strike anyone at any age. In many cases, like Trapp's, there's no known cause. 

A local neurologist prescribed medications, but Trapp's seizures worsened. Employed as a computer analyst but unable to drive, he depended on family members for rides to the office. Adding to his stress, he was afraid to be left alone with his young children for fear of having a seizure. Dissatisfied with his prognosis, Trapp sought a second opinion with Dr. Mona Sazgar, epileptologist and director of the UCI Health Comprehensive Epilepsy Program. “Because Ed̕'s seizures weren't responding to medication, we needed to consider surgery,” Sazgar says. Pinpointing the exact location of the seizures was critical. 

A series of highly specialized tests — EEG monitoring, MRI and PET scans — confirmed that Trapp̕s seizures were starting in his left temporal lobe. “Epilepsy surgery is a good option for many,” notes Sazgar. “Unlike medication, surgery can actually cure patients of their seizures.” 

Trapp agreed to the surgery. “I was ready to try anything,” he says. More testing was performed to make sure the area where the seizures were starting could be removed without affecting normal brain function. The surgery was a go — in a UC Irvine Medical Center operating room, a small slice of brain tissue was precisely removed from his temporal lobe and surrounding areas. Trapp has been seizure-free ever since. “I have my life back,” he says. 

To make an appointment with our UCI Health Comprehensive Epilepsy Program,  call 714-456-6203.

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