One in a 1,000 patients die from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP)
In addition, epilepsy can cause brain damage, have adverse economic consequences and negatively impact the patient's social interactions.
When to Refer a Patient for Evaluation
- No response after two failed medication attempts (drug resistant epilepsy)
- Difficult to treat or changing condition
- Abnormalities on an MRI scan
- Patient deterioration
Comprehensive, Research-Guided Care
Epilepsy carries a significant risk of injury and sudden death. Even a few seizures a year puts a patient at risk. The Sutter Health network has options for refractory (drug-resistant) patients.
Many refractory patients can significantly improve their condition with specialized care at an NAEC (National Association of Epilepsy Centers) accredited level 4 epilepsy center. The Sutter Health Network’s epilepsy services offer a range of highly advanced treatments and support services for both adults and children. We partner closely with neurologists, pediatricians, primary care doctors and others in our efforts to stop seizures. We stay in constant communication and return the patient to the referring physician’s full care after treatment.
Our accredited centers offer a spectrum of surgical and non-surgical interventions for refractory patients including (SEEG) Implanted Electrodes, drug studies, resective surgery, VNS, DBS, RNS and callosotomy. Refractory patients can sometimes completely control their seizures with medications and surgery.
Three Examples of the Latest Innovations in Epilepsy Treatment
Responsive Neurostimulation (RNS) System Implant
The Sutter Health Network offers Responsive Neurostimulation (RNS) Thearapy, the only FDA-approved responsive neurostimulation treatment for adult patients with drug resistant epilepsy. RNS involves a small implanted device that monitors brain activity to prevent epileptic seizures at their source. Once a seizure focus has been identified, neurosurgeons implant the device into the cranium. The device, similar to a pacemaker, then detects abnormal brain patterns and delivers brief, imperceptible pulses of electrical stimulation to stop a seizure.
- RNS can be adjusted and tailored to the patient’s condition.
- RNS does not destroy brain tissue or cause cognitive defects, lowering surgical risks.
- Outcomes include a 75% reduction in seizures over nine years and significantly reduced rates of sudden death in epilepsy (SUDEP) when compared to patients with medically refractory epilepsy treated with only medications.
- Sutter Health Network doctors were key in studying this treatment and earning its FDA approval, and have published several studies on the procedure.
The Sutter Health Network offers non-invasive, high-density electroencephalography (EEG), which gathers brain activity from many more electrodes (up to 256) than conventional EEG. This technology can assist in detecting and localizing abnormal brain activity and performs functional “mapping” by co-registering brain activity to the patient’s brain anatomy seen on the MRI scan. In this way, high-density EEG can offer significantly more precise levels of information when planning for surgery such as focal resection or other treatment of refractory epilepsy.
- Painless, non-invasive diagnostic technology that surpasses conventional EEG and MRI.
- Can dramatically improve patient care by mapping and identifying the precise epileptic focus.
Sometimes called laser interstitial therapy, laser ablation is less invasive and typically more accurate than traditional surgical approaches to treating epilepsy, such as temporal lobectomy. Using high-resolution MRI images and specialized software in real time, Sutter Health Network epilepsy surgeons create a tiny hole in the skull and place a thin probe with a fiber optic catheter directly into the epileptic area. They connect the catheter to the probe’s laser and ablate the area that generates the seizures.
- Laser ablation is significantly less invasive than older surgical methods, and patients typically have faster recovery.
- Most patients remain seizure-free with few long-term complications up to one year post-surgery, matching outcomes of more invasive surgical methods. In our patients, 87% have > 50% reduction and 76% have > 90% reduction. **
- Both of our accredited level 4 epilepsy centers treat adults, but Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento is among only a handful of centers nationwide that perform this surgery for pediatrics.
Nationally-Ranked Multidisciplinary Team
Ranked nationally by U.S. News and World Report, our network’s epilepsy clinician-investigators have decades of experience leading cutting-edge clinical research and helping adults and children improve their quality of life.