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Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders

More than 4 million adults in the United States have had a diagnosis of epilepsy or seizure disorder.

The official definition of epilepsy is “a disorder of the brain that causes seizures.” But epilepsy patients know that there’s so much more to living with this neurological condition, and that it can often be unpredictable and frightening. Seizures come in various shapes and sizes — some are quiet staring spells, while others can cause a person to collapse, shake and become unaware of what’s going on around them.

EMU

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit: Ochsner is the only institution in Louisiana that operates a dedicated epilepsy monitoring unit where patients with complex seizure disorders and other repetitive neurological events can be diagnosed and managed.

Our Program

Ochsner’s Epilepsy Program aims to provide the most modern and innovative medical and surgical care for patients with epilepsy and seizure disorders. We also understand that for many patients, their seizure disorder is far from simple, which is why each patient undergoes a thorough evaluation in the clinic and a comprehensive diagnostic work up including outpatient and inpatient video-EEG monitoring, sophisticated brain imaging, cardiac and psychological testing. Our team collaborates with other medical disciplines to manage other medical conditions related to seizure disorder and medications. 

Why Ochsner for Epilepsy Treatment?

  • Highly Trained Specialists
    • The epilepsy team comprises of five adult and one pediatric board certified  and experienced Epileptologists, a highly experienced adult and pediatric functional neurosurgeon, three neuropsychologists,  one certified physician assistant, three board certified neuroradiaologists, a certified (in EEG and long term monitoring) neurodiagnostic lab manager and an epilepsy nurse coordinator.
    • This team is committed to providing the most modern and innovative medical and surgical care for the treatment of epilepsy
  • Accreditation and Epilepsy Monitoring Unit
    • The epilepsy program at Ochsner is accredited by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC)  and has received the highest designation for a comprehensive epilepsy program  as evident by our level 4 status.
    • Ochsner is the only institution in Louisiana that operates a dedicated epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) where patients with complex seizure disorders and other repetitive neurological events can be diagnosed and managed.
    • The EMU at Ochsner has six dedicated adult beds with capacity to expand services to other telemetry beds for adult and pediatric patients.
  • International Recognition
    • Our center is internationally recognized and has Dr. R. Eugene Ramsay, a pioneer in the field of epilepsy, and with an impressive background. He is recognized nationally and internationally for his innovation and passion for advancing research and growth in epilepsy. Our outcomes have been published in national and international meetings and leading epilepsy journals.

Special Programs and Services

Ochsner offers leading treatments like epilepsy surgery and epilepsy-related diagnostics.

  • Adult and pediatric epilepsy surgery evaluations
    • We offer surgical evaluation and planning with various testing modalities including: brain positron emission tomography (PET), epilepsy protocol brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Wada testing, neuro-psychological testing, phase II motoring incorporating intracranial recording, functional mapping and seizure localization. We host weekly surgical case conferences  during which patients and their family members are involved in the decision making.
  • Neuro-Intensive Care Unit
    • Patients are cared for by expert neuro-intensivists who work in collaboration with our epileptologists to provide dedicated care to patients with status epilepticus. We offer several advanced therapeutic options and clinical trials to these critically ill patients. The Neuro-ICU is one of the largest and busiest program in the country with 45 beds.
  • First seizure clinic
    • Ochsner provides an expedited access to patients experiencing their first seizure or seizure like event that requires a thorough evaluation.
  • Epilepsy during pregnancy
    • Our team collaborates with obstetricians and understands that the needs of patients with epilepsy are different during pregnancy. Our epileptologists are trained in pharmacological management of epilepsy during pregnancy and post partum period.
    • Our program collaborates with a national pregnancy database for patients with epilepsy to monitor outcomes in babies. http://www.aedpregnancyregistry.org
  • Educational programs
    • Our team is committed to education and training  through various programs
    • The Ochsner neurology department hosts an ACGME accredited adult neurology residency program
    • Ochsner neurology department is a training site for residents of internal medicine, neurosurgery and neurology from Ochsner, Tulane and Louisiana State University residency programs
    • We train medical students from University of Queensland/Ochsner clinical school, Tulane and Louisiana State University
    • We host an international physician observership program for physicians interested in learning more about advanced epilepsy care
    • In partnership with Our Lady of Holy Cross College we host a training program for neurodiagnostic  technologists

Clinical Research

Ochsner neurosciences institute hosts a dedicated research division which collaborates with Ochsner’s office of research to conducts several investigator initiated and national clinical trials. Our epileptologists are actively engaged in research and present their work at several national and international scientific meetings. Learn more about Clinical Research at Ochsner.

Conditions Treated

  • Epilepsy
  • Seizure disorders in adults, children, pregnancy, geriatric
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
  • Non epileptic events 

Treatment Options

Medical Treatment

  1. Pharmacological therapies and monitoring
  2. Vitamin therapy
  3. Dietary therapies
  4. Counseling

Surgical Treatment

  1. Resective surgery:  The neurosurgeon will temporarily remove part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain. This surgery involves the removal of brain tissue responsible for the generation of seizures called the seizure focus. The extent of the resection can vary based on the results of diagnostic testing for each patient. Therefore, the procedure(s) involved during a resective surgery can include lesionectomy, lobectomy, hemispherectomy, and corticectomy. The removed tissue is analyzed by a pathologist. 
  2. Multiple subpial transection (MST): If focal seizures originate in areas of the brain that cannot be removed safely, multiple subpial transections are an alternative. The surgeon makes a series of shallow cuts (transections) into the brain's cerebral cortex. These cuts are thought to interrupt some fibers that connect neighboring parts of the brain, but they do not appear to cause long-lasting impairment in the critical functions that these areas perform. MSTcan help to reduce or eliminate seizures arising from vital functional areas of the cerebral cortex. 
  3. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS Therapy®): This therapy is designed to prevent seizures by sending regular, mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve. These pulses are supplied by a device something like a pacemaker. The AspireSR® VNS can detect rapid rise in heart rate associated with some seizures and deliver stimulation targeted at aborting the seizure.
  4. RNS® System: Ochsner is the only hospital system in the region to offer the RNS® System. This is the first device to provide responsive neurostimulation, automatically monitoring brain signals and providing stimulation to abnormal electrical events just when it is needed to abort seizures. The system is an adjunctive treatment for adults with medically refractory partial seizures that come from one or two seizure targets in the brain.
  5. Visualase® - MRI-Guided Laser Ablation Technology for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery: Ochsner is the only hospital system in the region to use Visualase® - MRI-Guided Laser Ablation Technology for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery.  This is one of the industry’s newest surgical treatment options for epilepsy. Patients also have access to a clinic concierge who will assist with getting copies of your records and scheduling your appointments.

For more information on these treatment options, visit the Epilepsy Foundation.

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)

Ochsner is the only institution in Louisiana that operates an epilepsy monitoring unit  (EMU) where patients with complex seizure disorders and other repetitive neurological events can be diagnosed and managed. A monitoring study in the EMU provides a detailed analysis of brain activity over a prolonged period of time.

The EMU at Ochsner has 6 dedicated adult beds with capacity to expand services to other telemetry beds in the hospital for adult and pediatric patients. Our team of epileptologists, nurses, intensivists, and EEG technologists track and record brain activity 24 hours a day. Patients are closely monitored to ensure safety during their stay in the hospital. 

At Ochsner we use the latest in technology to perform detailed diagnostic evaluations in the EMU:

For Patients

Download the information regarding your diagnostic study in the EMU.

For Referring Physicians

To refer a patient call the Clinic Concierge at 504-842-7436 or 1-855-312-4190 

  • The Clinic Concierge assists with getting copies of patient records and scheduling clinic appointments.
  • The Clinic Concierge team can also capture your preference for receiving post visit follow-up from the patient's appointment.