Epilepsy Treatment (cont.)
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Other Epilepsy Treatment Options
The ketogenic diet has received much attention lately and is effective for treating certain types of epilepsy. Specifically, it is used most frequently in children with seizures that have not responded to medical therapy. However, the diet requires careful planning and may be difficult to follow, so it is usually not recommended in older children or adults. The diet is usually started in the hospital, and when successful, it is most often maintained for two to three years.
A relatively new treatment involves electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve. This treatment requires minor surgery to implant a stimulator, which is about the size of a silver dollar. The stimulator is placed under the skin in the upper chest, like a pacemaker. The treatment appears to be effective for seizures that do not respond well to medications alone. The degree of effectiveness of the vagus nerve stimulator is approximately the same as medication. Vagus nerve stimulation decreases seizure numbers by half or more in 40% to 50% of patients, but rarely eliminates all seizures. Almost all patients need to continue taking medications after the stimulator has been placed, although many people can take fewer drugs.
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Last Editorial Review: 9/16/2009