When you struggle with seizures, surgery may be the only method of treatment for you. Seizures can be very difficult to handle. It can affect anyone, no matter the age, race, or ethnicity. When seizures become persistent, it may be called epilepsy. There are many causes of seizures. It can be genetic or something that is developed after an injury. Seizures are typically not diagnosed until you have one. It is not accustomed for doctors to look for brain abnormalities that could eventually cause seizures. If you are suffering from seizures and medicine is not working, surgery may be the best method of treatment.
Seizures are abnormal brain activity. The root of the problem is an electrical issue. You are familiar with electricity in the home, but you probably never thought about electricity in the body. The nerves throughout the body communicate through signals. These signals travel like electricity. You do not feel a shock while nerves are communicating, but when there are abnormalities in communication, a seizure may seem like a shock. Seizures affect different lobes of the brain. They do not always affect the whole brain and because of that, the characteristics of seizures differ.
Types of Seizures
There are several types of seizures. Common types include:
- Generalized Seizures
- Partial Seizures
- Absence Seizures
- Tonic Seizures
- Clonic Seizures
- Myoclonic Seizures
- Complex Partial Seizures
Most people are familiar with general and partial seizures. Each type causes a different set of symptoms. Generalized seizures affect the whole brain. Partial seizures only affect a small part of the brain. Generalized seizures cause a loss of consciousness along with stiffness and shaking. Partial seizures do not typically result in a loss of consciousness. Complex partial seizures have symptoms of both. A person will have some jerking movements and seem to be out of it, but they do not completely lose consciousness. Absence seizures show no physical signs except blank staring. It can happen at multiple times but only last a short time. Tonic, Clonic, and Myoclonic all describe the activity of the body during a seizure. Tonic seizures cause stiffness; Clonic seizures cause repeated jerking on both sides of the body, and Myoclonic seizures cause a random jerking motion.
Treatment for Seizures
When it comes to treating seizures, the use of anti-seizure meds is always the first step. Sometimes the anti-seizure medication works well and prevents the onset of seizures. Sometimes the medication has no effect. A doctor may then decide to use neurostimulation. Neurostimulation works through a device. The device is placed inside the chest, and the electrodes are put on different areas of the brain. The device controls electrical signals to the brain. The signals transmitted are controlled by the doctor. The hope is that changing the signals transmitted to the brain will help stabilize the brain and treat the seizures. When this does not work, the next step is surgery. There are a few options for surgery.
Methods of Surgery
There are two main methods of surgery. The first method of surgery is called Resection surgery. This is the most common type. During the procedure, the surgeon removes the area of the brain causing the seizure. There are four total lobes of the brain. Removing the whole lobe is impossible. If that happened, you would lose the ability to perform certain functions. Seizures tend to occur in a small section of the brain. With that part removed, the hope is that the seizures will stop completely. The second method of surgery is called a disconnection. During this surgery, the surgeon attempts to disrupt the nerves that are causing the seizures. This surgery can happen in a few different ways. One way is by cutting an area of the brain in a procedure called a callosotomy. Nothing is removed, but the cut disrupts the electrical signals. Multiple subpial transections are another method that is safer and keeps the brain intact. Since nothing is removed, it may not cure the problem, but it does treat the symptoms and lower the number of seizures you have.
Candidates for Surgery
If you are struggling with seizures, it is important to know if you are a candidate for surgery. Surgery is not given to everyone. The first thing a surgeon consider is the effectiveness of other methods of treatment. They want to make sure medications have had enough time to be effective. If seizures are not improving over a certain period, the medication is probably not useful. Surgeons also monitor the use of other methods like neurostimulation. Surgeons will also see if you have changes socially and psychologically. If things begin to change for the worse, surgeon may also be done sooner.
If you suffer from seizures, surgery is not always the first method of treatment, but it could be the best method of treatment for you. Many people live with seizures their whole life. That does not have to be you. Talk with a surgeon about your options. Hopefully, surgery is just what you need to get relief.
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