Epilepsy

Epilepsy Specialist
Nearly 200,000 cases of epilepsy are diagnosed in the United States annually, and about one-third of those diagnosed are children. Although there’s no cure for epilepsy, it can be managed, usually with medication. Dr. Maria Lily Vasco Dela Cruz and Dr. Pablito Dela Cruz are skilled in advanced diagnostic and treatment methods to confirm the cause of seizures and ensure appropriate treatment. At Midwest Child and Adolescent Specialty Group, PC, children in and around Terre Haute, Indiana, undergo state-of-the-art testing and ongoing management to ensure their treatment remains optimized as they grow.

Epilepsy Q & A

Midwest Child and Adolescent Specialty Group, PC

What causes epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic (ongoing) neurological disorder that causes recurrent seizures as a result of excessive and abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The electrical activity can cause muscle fibers to twitch and contract, resulting in the physical manifestations of seizures. Researchers aren’t sure what causes epilepsy, although genetic disorders, infections, and brain trauma are all possible causes for some patients. Not every type of seizure is related to epilepsy, so patients who have seizures require a very careful evaluation to ensure the right diagnosis is made.

What are the symptoms of epilepsy?

The characteristic symptom of epilepsy is seizure. Seizures can affect the entire body, causing rigidity followed by a period of twitching and rapid limb movements, or they may be focal, affecting just one portion of the body. Loss of urine and respiratory difficulties may also accompany a seizure.

Children often have what’s known as petit mal seizures, characterized by brief periods of impaired consciousness, blank staring, or repetitive blinking. These seizures are very brief, sometimes lasting just a few seconds, and they may occur many times a day. Like many other chronic conditions, epilepsy symptoms can range from mild to severe. Often, children are confused or dazed following a longer seizure.

How is epilepsy diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with a careful review of symptoms and a physical exam. Blood tests and a neurological exam may also be ordered to help rule out other possible causes of seizures. Other evaluations may also be recommended, including:

  • EEG or electroencephalogram to evaluate the brain’s electrical activity
  • CT (computerized tomography) scans to obtain cross-sectional images of the brain
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to obtain detailed images of the brain while it’s resting and while performing specific activities
  • PET (positron emission tomography) or SPECT (single-photon emission computerized tomography) scans, which use a very small amount of radioactive material injected into the bloodstream to obtain very detailed images of specific areas of the brain where abnormal electrical activity may be occurring

What treatments are available for children with epilepsy?

Epilepsy in children usually can be controlled with regular use of one or more medications. In some cases, the child can stop taking the medication and enjoy a seizure-free life eventually, while other patients need to take medication into adulthood. For severe cases, surgery may be recommended to treat the area of the brain where abnormal activity occurs.