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Leading the Way in Pediatric Epilepsy Care
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.
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), Computed Tomography Scan (CT scan), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and long-term EEG monitoring.
Our epilepsy monitoring unit offers six inpatient beds dedicated to long-term video EEG recording—allowing our team to monitor patients around the clock, to pinpoint exactly where and why the child is having seizures.
Based on the results of the studies and work-ups, our pediatric epilepsy specialists determine the type of seizures or epilepsy syndrome and make individualized treatment recommendations.
Epilepsy Treatment Options
The goal of seizure management is to control, stop, or decrease the frequency of the seizures without interfering with the child's normal growth and development.
- Medication Medications that treat seizures and epilepsy are recommended based on the type of seizure, age of the child, side effects, and adherence ability.
- Ketogenic Diet Sometimes offered to children who still have seizures while on medication, the ketogenic diet is very high in fat and low in carbohydrates. It doesn’t work for everyone and is only to be used under close physician supervision.
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) For children not responding well to seizure medications, VNS can control seizures by sending small pulses of energy to the brain from the vagus—which is a large nerve in the neck. A small battery is surgically placed into the chest wall, which is attached to the vagus nerve with small wires. It is programmed to send energy impulses to the brain and when the child feels a seizure coming on—he or she can activate the impulses, helping to stop the seizure.
Epilepsy Surgery: Taking on the Toughest Cases
Sometimes seizures cannot be controlled by medications, or the side effects are so severe that another treatment option needs to be seriously considered. If a child with epilepsy has tried, and failed, at least two medications he or she may be a candidate 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 on the brain to monitor the brain’s electrical activity post-surgery. Our epilepsy team then closely monitors the patient in the hospital for several days.
The information provided by the grid lets our experts know if the surgery has stopped the seizures. The grid can also help the team determine if further tissue removal is required. The grid is always surgically removed before the patient returns home.
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, M.D., is developing the Level 4 Comprehensive Epilepsy Center for children with uncontrollable seizures at CHOC. Dr. Zupanc 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. The latest, detailing her pioneering approach to epilepsy surgery, was published in the February 2011 issue of Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics.
More about Our Epilepsy Team
Lead by Dr. Zupanc, our epilepsy program team is consists of clinical and support staff is specifically trained in the care of children with neurological disorders. The Team includes board-certified epileptologist, neurosurgeons, neurologists, neuropsychologists, neuroradiologists, social workers, physical therapists, dieticians, nurses and nurse practitioners, child life specialists and case managers.
To schedule an appointment, please call the Patient Access Center 714-509-7986. Medical records and authorization to release information from referring physician will be required prior to a new patient appointment.
1120 West La Veta Avenue, Suite 125
Orange, CA 92868