Epilepsy Essay

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Epilepsy is a condition characterized by recurrent seizures which are unprovoked by any immediately identifiable cause (Hopkins & Shorvon, 1995). It is also known as a seizure disorder. A wide range of links and risk factors are associated with the condition, but most of the time the cause is unknown. Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders, affecting approximately two and half million people in the US and about 50 million worldwide. Though seizures can occur at any age, epilepsy is most commonly seen in children and the elderly. Most respond well to treatment and can control their seizures, but for some it is a chronic illness. A clinical diagnosis is the first step to finding a potential cure for the
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Localized abnormal slow activity suggests a structural or vascular lesion in the brain, while localized absence of normal slow activity indicates underlying damage or atrophy (Fisher, 1995).

While an EEG is helpful in the determination of epilepsy type or cause it also shows much variation between patients and types. An EEG examination can show no abnormal activity in patients with some epilepsies and can also demonstrate apparent epileptic activity in patients with no history of the condition. Additional EEGs will not detect additional abnormalities. Spatial and temporal sampling limitations are often the cause of an unhelpful study of an epileptic patent (Fisher, 1995). Another problem with EEGs exists within its need for interpretation. Discrepancy often exists pertaining to which disturbances are considered significant. Imaging techniques are often used in addition to the EEG to help determine causation.

Several imaging methods are used to diagnose a patient with epilepsy. The objective of imaging in epilepsy is to identify a cause, through the identification of structurally abnormal tissue (Cook & Stevens, 1995). These include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET). MRI provides an anatomically accurate image of the brain structure which is formed by electrochemical characteristics (McIntosh, 1992). The CT shows variations in brain density which helps show

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