This information is relevant to people who live in the UK.
Most people with epilepsy take epilepsy medicine, which can be very effective in reducing or stopping seizures. But if it does not work well for you, there are other treatments that may help.
Epilepsy brain surgery
Epilepsy surgery is done to:
- Try to stop your seizures or
- Reduce the number of seizures you have or
- Make your seizures less severe
Overall, the aim is to improve your quality of life. Epilepsy surgery isn’t suitable for all types of epilepsy, but it can be very effective.
Listen to Sean talking about his epilepsy brain surgery.
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)
VNS therapy involves a small electrical device, like a pacemaker, which is implanted under the skin of your chest. The device sends electrical impulses to your brain through a nerve in your neck called the vagus nerve. The aim is to reduce the number of seizures you have and make them less severe.
VNS therapy uses the VNS system, which is made up of 3 parts:
- A small pacemaker-like device, called a generator
- A thin, flexible wire, called a lead
- A hand-held magnet
The vagus nerve sends messages between the brain and other parts of the body. In VNS therapy, a generator is connected to the vagus nerve by a lead. The generator is programmed to send electrical impulses to the vagus nerve at regular intervals, all day, every day. These impulses are then carried by the vagus nerve to the brain.
The ketogenic diet/modified Atkins diet
The ketogenic diet is higher in fats and lower in carbohydrates than a typical diet. It has been used for many years to help children whose seizures can’t be reduced or stopped with epilepsy medicine. The modified Atkins diet is less strict than the ketogenic diet. Around 3 to 4 adults in every 10, who have used these diets have had their seizures reduced.
There are currently only 3 centres in the UK that treat adults with these diets. But if your seizures are difficult to control, you might want to discuss this treatment option with your epilepsy specialist.
If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact our Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone on 0808 800 5050.
Epilepsy Action would like to thank thank Dr John Paul Leach, consultant neurologist, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow for his contribution.
Dr John Paul Leach has declared no conflict of interest.
This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.
- Updated May 2017To be reviewed May 2020