Brain surgery helps some epilepsy patients
Posted May 28, 2012
Updated May 29, 2012
For years, Stephanie Conklin, a New Jersey mother of two, was among the many patients with epilepsy who haven't been getting the right treatment.
"It was a challenge," Conklin said. "Lots of side effects from the medicine made you feel very nasty."
Conklin had suffered seizures since having a brain tumor removed in childhood. She tried all kinds of medications, but none of them worked.
The seizures interfered with every part of her life, including the birth of her daughter. "I had grand mal seizures while I was carrying her, so they took her early," she said.
A new report from the Institute of Medicine shows that many effective ways to treat epilepsy exist, but many patients don't have access to the care they need.
"Less than half of the people who are eligible and good candidates for some of these sophisticated treatments get them," said Dr. Arno Fried, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Medicine helps most patients, but others need specialized treatments or surgery.
Conklin underwent a series of brain surgeries in which electrodes were attached to her brain to pinpoint where the problem was.
"We had a very detailed map, so I could go back in and surgically remove the area causing the seizures," Fried said.
Since the surgery, Conklin has had just one seizure in four years and gave birth to a son without complications.
Doctors say that roughly 80 to 85 percent of epilepsy patients can control their seizures with medicine alone.