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of everyone affected by epilepsy

New scanning techniques could stop seizures

26 February, 2001

A project is offering fresh hope to thousands of people with epilepsy by developing new techniques to examine the brain and pinpoint the site at which seizures start.

If medication fails to control seizures, surgery may cure the epilepsy providing the part of the brain responsible can be pinpointed. Current brain scans using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) do not give this information in a quarter of this patient group.

Several new ways to examine the brain are being developed with MRI scans to identify the sites at which seizures start, that have been undetectable up to now. This could then make surgery that could cure the epilepsy possible.

The project is being undertaken at the MRI Unit, National Society for Epilepsy in conjunction with the Epilepsy Research Group at the Institute of Neurology of University College London, and has been funded by the medical research charity Action Research.

The research is led by Professor John Duncan, who puts into perspective the value of the work that he and his team are undertaking:

“Epilepsy is the most common serious disease of the brain, and costs the UK £2000 million per year. Seizures can result in injury and have a profound effect on a person’s well being, activities, social life and job prospects. For those whose seizures are not controlled with medication, surgical treatment can offer the chance of a cure and transformation of life for the better.”