Improving treatment and surgery for epilepsy in children and adults
Around half a million people in the UK have seizures that happen again and again due to epilepsy, about 60,000 of whom are under 18. Not all seizures can be prevented with drug treatments. In 1992 Action funding helped researchers at the Institute of Child Health, University College London, to find new ways to treat children with epilepsy with surgery. Professor Brian Neville and Dr Helen Cross wanted to use a new form of scanning called single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) which enabled them to identify the affected parts of the brain.
The results from the research have allowed Great Ormond Street Hospital to offer surgery for epilepsy to many children and develop one of the largest programmes of this type in the world.
Action funding between 1998 and 2005 also helped the development of groundbreaking ways of taking MRI scans of the brain. These scans are offering the chance of a cure to more people with epilepsy who continue to have seizures even though they take medication. The new ways of taking scans were developed by a team of experts led by Professor John Duncan of University College London.
The advantage of the new ways of taking MRI scans is that they provide more detailed information on the brain, revealing problems that conventional scans may miss. This helps surgeons to better pinpoint exactly where in the brain seizures are likely to be coming from. And, as a result, more patients can have the life-changing surgery to potentially cure them of their seizures.