June 12, 2019

Inducing Seizures to Stop Seizures

Surgery is the only way to stop seizures in 30 per cent of patients with focal drug-resistant epilepsy. A new study finds that inducing seizures before surgery may be a convenient and cost-effective way to determine the brain region where seizures are coming from.

In approximately 20 per cent of patients, electrodes have to be inserted directly into the brain. Patients with inserted electrodes often undergo cortical stimulation, a procedure that applies electrical current to the brain to map brain function but also to induce seizures for better understanding of the epileptic network. So far, no study systematically addressed whether relying on induced seizures to plan the surgery is as effective as relying on spontaneous seizures.

Looking at data from 103 epilepsy patients in Montreal, Canada and Grenoble, France, a research team led by Dr. Birgit Frauscher at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital) used statistical methods to reveal correlations between the presence of stimulated seizures and their onset zone and patient outcome. They found the patients who had induced seizures had better outcomes than patients in whom no seizures could be induced. Also, there was strong similarity between the seizure onset zones identified by induced and spontaneous seizures.

This finding suggests that inducing seizures is as effective for determining the origin of seizures in the brain as spontaneous seizures. Using induced seizures in this way could mean much shorter hospital stays for patients awaiting surgery, and cost savings for hospitals that perform these operations.

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