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Epilepsy patients caught in treatment gap are not getting state-of-the-art care
Date:12/4/2009

c epilepsy patients referred to the center for pre-surgical evaluation. Some of these patients had been previously evaluated but remained untreated for complications secondary to their epilepsy. (Abstract 2.169)

Researchers in another study to be reported here have found there continues to be a major gap averaging seventeen years between the diagnosis of epilepsy and pre-surgical evaluation at a specialized epilepsy center in the U.S.. Professional guidelines recommend that patients be evaluated as potential surgery candidates after failing appropriate trials of first-line antiepileptic drugs, trials typically taking less than two years. The research team says reasons for the wide gap in time to treatment need to be studied. (Abstract 1.114 and Platform C.09)

"Even with the plethora of epilepsy therapies now available," Dr. Schachter says, "the CDC estimates that at least 45 percent of people with epilepsy here in the U.S. continue to experience seizures. Complete freedom from seizures is not a possibility for everyone who has epilepsy. But it is important for patients with continuing seizures and their healthcare providers to make every effort toward that goal."

Seizures are not benign. Mounting evidence suggests that they can lead directly to brain injury, permanent disability and death. Animal research suggests the injury may be due to seizures affecting the structure and function of dendrites, neuronal branches that connect brain cells. (Abstracts 3.028 and 3.136) Leading epilepsy experts recommend early aggressive treatment to prevent these possible severe consequences.

Dr. Kwan notes that this recommendation is followed less often in practice than actually observed. The care that is provided is further complicated by a variety of standards for defining refractory epilepsy which can also contribute to the sub-optimal care that some epilepsy patients are getting.

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Contact: Peter Van Haverbeke
pvanhaverbeke@gmail.com
703-927-9639
American Epilepsy Society
Source:Eurekalert

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