Road and parking lot construction in Madison, Wis. may result in travel delays and route changes to UW Health clinic and hospital locations. Please plan accordingly.Read more
Ready to help you gain control of your seizures
Our team is experienced in treating all aspects of epilepsy, and we provide a wide range of services, including surgery and special dietary therapies. The National Association of Epilepsy Centers has named us a level 4 epilepsy center — the highest level there is.
We know that epilepsy can cause physical, emotional and social challenges. We work with you to address them.
Symptoms and diagnosis
The right treatment begins with the right diagnosis
We use the latest technology to make the right diagnosis. Knowing exactly what we’re dealing with is crucial for planning next steps. You may first see this technology in our epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) and during neuroimaging tests.
Technology helps us make the right diagnosis
Epilepsy can affect various parts of your brain. Our EMU helps us track seizures as they happen and determine where in your brain they begin. This helps us decide which treatments are likely to be right for you.
You may spend up to nine days in our monitoring unit. There are some restrictions but you’re free to move around and go about your daily life in the unit. With the help of an electroencephalogram, we monitor the electrical activity in your brain. This test involves placing electrodes on your scalp and is painless.
Advanced neuroimaging tests can also help us see what is happening in your brain.
MRI — Creates images of your brain using a magnetic field and radio waves. The test helps spot problems with the brain’s structure that could cause seizures.
PET — Helps show where in the brain seizures occur. The test involves injecting a small amount of radioactive dye into your body. Then we do a special scan.
Functional MRI — Measures changes in blood flow in certain areas of your brain. This helps doctors know which areas control functions like movement and speech, something that’s crucial when planning surgery.
Treatments and research
The goal of treatment: improved quality of life
Epilepsy is a complex condition. When you have it, decisions about treatment can be confusing. We work with you to evaluate potential treatments and determine what’s best for you. When we can, we recommend the simplest, least invasive option first. If necessary, we turn to other options, including surgery. Our goal is to find the treatment that will control your seizures and help you feel and function well.
A number of medicines may help control seizures. We’ll work with you to find the ones that are best for you.
Because we can pinpoint where your seizures begin in your brain, we can focus surgical treatment. Our careful pre-surgery testing allows us to protect key brain functions.
Surgeries we offer include:
This is a common surgery for epilepsy. It involves removing the front part of the temporal lobe, which is the area where seizures often originate. By removing this specific region, the surgery aims to reduce or even stop the seizures, offering the possibility of a better quality of life.
Involves removing tissue from lobes of the brain other than your temporal lobe. A surgeon identifies the specific region outside the temporal lobe that is responsible for causing seizures. They then remove or disconnect that area, aiming to prevent the abnormal electrical activity and providing a chance for a life with fewer or no seizures.
Involves disconnecting one hemisphere of the brain from the rest of the organ. It’s reserved for those with severe epilepsy whose seizures come from one side of the brain. The healthy side of the brain takes over the functions of the removed one, offering a potential reduction or elimination of seizures.
This is a minimally invasive surgery. It involves using a small fiber optic probe to deliver heat to the part of the brain causing your seizures. It’s done with MRI guidance.
Removes lesions of the brain causing seizures. An MRI identifies the lesions and assures that they can be removed safely.
This technique is used when the seizure focus is in critical areas of the brain that cannot be removed. Instead of removing the affected tissue, this procedure involves making multiple small incisions or cuts in the brain's outer layer (cortex) along the pathway of the abnormal electrical signals. By doing so, the surgeon can interrupt the spread of these signals while preserving vital brain functions.
DBS may be an option if medication isn’t working for you and other types of surgery aren’t the right treatment for your case. It involves placing electrodes in specific areas of your brain. Electrical signals from the electrodes will interfere with the brain signals causing your seizures. In many patients, this improves seizure control.
This treatment involves implanting a device somewhat like a pacemaker under your skin. It stimulates the nerve that helps your brain communicate with your major organs. This may help reduce the number of seizures you have.
RNS is a surgical treatment for epilepsy that does not require any brain tissue to be removed. Using an implanted device, seizures are detected with a goal of stopping them before they progress. The device monitors your brain waves through attached leads and when unusual activity is detected, an electric pulse is sent to that area of the brain to help prevent or shorten a seizure.
Certain diets may help lessen the number of seizures you have. Our Adult Neurology Ketogenic Dietary Therapy Clinic can help teach you about these diets and how to change your eating habits.
These diets are low in carbohydrates and high in fats. They’ve been shown to lower the number of seizures some people have.
This is the ketogenic diet used most often for adults. It limits net carbohydrates to 20 grams per day. It encourages fats such as olive oil, avocados, butter, heavy cream, nuts, and seeds.
It was a miracle, and I just wish I would have tried it sooner.
There are many good ways to treat epilepsy, but we’re always looking for more. When you come to us, you have access to clinical trials. This means you may get new drugs and treatments before they’re widely available elsewhere.
Meet our team
Expertise to meet all your needs
A team of specialists will take part in your care. Each has their own expertise. Some team members focus on your diagnosis. Others offer unique therapies and advanced procedures to treat epilepsy. They combine their knowledge and skill to care for you in body and mind.
Patient and support services
Understanding your needs helps us serve you better
Everyone can use a hand when it comes to managing epilepsy. At some points in your life you may need more help than at others. We’re here to make things easier for you. We offer tools and resources to help you take control of your epilepsy.
Epilepsy Transitions Clinic
The Epilepsy Transitions Clinic helps patients who are approaching adulthood transition from their pediatric to adult care teams. Depending on abilities, we will help create a plan to transition to independence for adults who are able to manage their health care. Patients with different abilities will also transition to adult care teams. Our comprehensive approach helps to ensure that needs are met for every patient and caregiver/guardian through a team of epilepsy physicians, nurses, clinical pharmacists and social workers.
Adult Epilepsy Dietary Therapy Clinic
Our dietary therapy clinic may be able to help you better control your seizures by changing how you eat. Specially trained neurologist Elizabeth Felton will oversee your care along with a ketogenic dietitian. Ask your doctor if a referral to the clinic is right for you.
Women’s Epilepsy Clinic
Menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause can all affect a woman’s epilepsy. Our Women's Epilepsy Clinic helps with the challenges women with epilepsy face throughout their lives.
Here, you get care not offered everywhere
We are the only Level 4 epilepsy center in Madison and one of only two Level 4 centers for adults in Wisconsin. When your doctor refers you to us, you get the most advanced testing and treatment that exists. It’s care that few other places offer.