To see if Hillyard's experience will benefit others, neurologists and neurosurgeons at UVa are participating in a multicenter clinical trial to evaluate whether epilepsy surgery is more effective than drugs to eliminate seizures in newly diagnosed patients. More than 2.3 million Americans have epilepsy, a rhythmic, electrical 'storm' in the brain that brings on seizures, ranging from mild to severe depending on the location of the storm.
The study, called ERSET (Early Randomized Surgical Epilepsy Trial) is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and will compare the ability of surgery and medications versus medications alone to eliminate seizures and side effects, improving the quality of life for epilepsy patients and rescuing some from a lifetime of disability. UVa doctors hope to recruit at least ten patients from the mid-Atlantic region. They must be diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy (where seizures originate in the temple above the ear) and have had at least six seizures a year for no longer than two years.
"The clear benefit of this study is that if early surgery provides a better outcome than standard medication treatment, we will be encouraging all patients with early temporal lobe epilepsy to have surgery," said Dr. Nathan Fountain, associate professor of neurology and director of UVa's F. E. Dreifuss Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, founded in 1977 as one of only three epilepsy programs funded
Contact: Bob Beard
University of Virginia Health System