The treatment for epilepsy has so far been limited to the handful of drugs available in the market to control seizures. But doctors in India have now devised a new diagnostic approach- involving a high end surgery, a dietary therapy and a nerve-stimulating battery that not just brings down or prevent seizures but also cure epilepsy. The doctors aren’t just tracking the source of the seizures in the brain and then scooping out the region, they are also using a nerve stimulating battery and a fat-rich diet so that a complete cure is resulted. The doctors spoke about this at a conference recently held in Bangalore.

The treatment

Dr BN Gangadhar, director, Nimhans explains the new treatment thus:

“The patient’s seizures are initially recorded through video electroencephalography (EEG) screening. Further investigations and studies on seizures are conducted through pet and spect scans. Based on the results, the source of seizures in the brain area is detected, following which a surgery is done to remove that particular area. This is how one can get complete cure from paediatric epilepsy. Once the source is eliminated, the seizures cannot recur. Invasive monitoring of the brain by putting small electrodes either on the brain surface or directly into the brain area is another new way by which source area of seizures can be tracked efficiently.”

Complications lesser and recovery faster for young patients

Surgical option is exercised on both adults and children. However, doctors say that the complications are less and the recovery faster for young patients. “Earlier, treating paediatric epilepsy meant bringing down the frequency of seizures. However, complete cure was a distant dream. Now, a surgery and dietary therapy can easily cure the ailment,” said Dr Suvasini Sharma, paediatric neurologist and associate professor at department of paediatrics, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi.

The epileptic symptoms in a child are studied by the doctors. They also observe the type of seizures they suffer. After such observations they prescribe the medical diet called ketogenic diet. “The diet includes food with high fat content and low carbohydrates. This not only curbs the intensity and frequency of seizures, but also gradually stops bouts of fits in the patient, curing him completely,” Dr Suvasini added.

Yet another common treatment mode is though the vagus nerve stimulating battery. “We fit a small battery on the patient’s neck to stimulate the vagus nerve that connects to the brain, affecting the source area of fits and stopping seizures,” explained Dr Rajesh Iyer, consultant and epileptologist at Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru.

Speaking to the Times of India, Dr BN Gangadhar, said, “The major problem with epilepsy in our country is late detection. By the time the severity is gauged, the patient would have become an adult. We conduct epilepsy surgeries on adults and remove the seizure source from the brain area. However, now it’s happening among children as well due to early detection. The surgery requires a lot of sophistication and efficiency as it deals with the brain.”

A new worry

The novel treatment notwithstanding, doctors have a new worrying factor- the growing number of children with autoimmune epilepsy. This usually happens after a child suffers from a viral infection, gets cured and the body begins to reach against the brain, leading to epileptic seizures.

“Auto immune epilepsy, also known as immuned mediator epilepsy, is a recent trend in pediatric epilepsy; it wasn’t so common earlier. After two to three weeks of any viral infection, the virus might get eliminated from the body but the state of the body makes it function against that of the brain. This leads to formation of seizures and the child suffers from severe fits,” said Dr Rajesh Iyer. He sees at least two patients with auto immune epilepsy every month.

“Early detection in these cases is a must as it can lead to complete cure. We usually treat auto immune epilepsy by intravenous immunoglobulin therapy and steroids,” he added.

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