The CHOC Children's Comprehensive Epilepsy Program is the regional leader in pediatric epilepsy care, offering leading-edge diagnostics, innovative medical approaches and advanced surgical interventions from the nation's foremost epilepsy experts.
Named a Level 4 epilepsy center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC), the CHOC Children's Comprehensive Epilepsy Program provides comprehensive care for children with epilepsy, using a multidisciplinary team. CHOC is the only children's hospital in California to have received this prestigious distinction.
Comprehensive Epilepsy Program
1120 W. La Veta Ave., Suite 125
Orange, CA 92868
The Latest Neurodiagnostics
Our pediatric specialists utilize the newest technology to identify the foci, or the area of the brain where seizures are originating. State-of-the-art diagnostic tests are employed to diagnose or confirm an epilepsy diagnosis—which may include electroencephalogram (EEG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan and and long-term EEG monitoring (LTM).
We proudly offer an eight-bed inpatient epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) at CHOC Children's Orange and a four-bed inpatient EMU at CHOC Children's at Mission Hospital. Both dedicated units are staffed 24/7 by our registered EEG technologists to monitor patients around the clock. Long-term EEG monitoring allows physicians to pinpoint more precisely where a child is having seizures. Based on the results of the studies and work-ups, our pediatric epileptologists can determine the type of seizures or epilepsy syndrome and make individualized treatment recommendations—or rule out an epilepsy diagnosis altogether.
Epilepsy Treatment Options
The goal of seizure management is to control a child's seizures completely without interfering with the child's normal growth and development.
- Medications that treat epilepsy are recommended based on the type of seizures, age of the child and side effects.
- Ketogenic Diet is sometimes offered to children who still have seizures while on medication. The ketogenic diet is very high in fat and low in carbohydrates. It is not appropriate in all cases and is only to be used under close physician and dietitian supervision.
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) can control seizures by sending small pulses of energy to the brain from the vagus nerve, which is a large nerve in the neck. VNS is used as a palliative measure to help control seizures. A small battery is surgically placed into the chest wall and attached to the vagus nerve with small wires. It is programmed to send intermittent energy impulses to the brain. This signaling significantly reduces seizures in approximately one-third of patients. In addition, when the child feels a seizure coming on, he or she can activate the VNS, helping to stop the seizure.
Epilepsy Surgery: Taking on the Tough Cases
Sometimes seizures cannot be controlled by medications. If a child with epilepsy has failed at least two medications, he or she should be evaluated for epilepsy surgery. In some cases, surgery can be a cure for epilepsy. Surgical candidates require extensive preoperative testing and evaluation.
What is Epilepsy Surgery?
There are two basic types of epilepsy surgery. One method involves removing the portion of the brain that is causing the seizures. The other type involves disconnecting or interrupting the nerve pathways that spread the seizure impulses.
The neurosurgeon may place a thin, flexible grid of electrodes on the brain to monitor the brain’s electrical activity. The electrodes are not painful on the brain's surface and are well tolerated. The patient comes back to the LTM unit for EEG monitoring. Our epilepsy team then closely monitors the patient in the hospital for several days, capturing seizures. This invasive monitoring helps the epileptologists determine the precise seizure focus.
Once pinpointed, the seizure focus is removed. Both the neurosurgeon and epilepsy specialist are in the operating room. The grid is removed at the time of the resection.
Calm and Comfortable
Because tests and treatment options can seem overwhelming for children with epilepsy, our child life specialists help every step of the way. From medical exploration and play to emotional support, child life teaches children techniques for coping with stress and anxiety, helping them to feel calm and more confident during diagnostic tests or a hospital stay.
World-renowned Pediatric Epileptologist Leads the Charge
Mary Zupanc, MD, has built comprehensive pediatric epilepsy programs at Mayo Clinic, Columbia University, the NYU School of Medicine and, most recently, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. She’s published more than 35 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
More about Our Epilepsy Team
Lead by Dr. Zupanc, our epilepsy program team is consists of clinical and support staff who are specifically trained in the care of children with neurological disorders:
- Epileptologists (pediatric neurologists with specialized training in epilepsy)
- Registered EEG technologists
- Physical therapists
- Clinical registered dietitians
- Clinical pharmacists
- Nurses and nurse practitioners
- Social workers, child life specialists and case coordinators.