Pediatric Epilepsy

Approximately 4,000 children with epilepsy are currently treated by Washington University neurosurgeons at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Our epilepsy team-based approach ensures that each patient is considered carefully and those with seizures who do not respond to anticonvulsant medication undergo a complete evaluation to assess the potential benefit of surgery.

What is epilepsy?

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Epilepsy affects a surprisingly large number of children, with about 1% of all children experiencing seizures.  Seizures are bursts of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain.  They can produce outward physical symptoms, changes in mental status or alertness, or combinations of symptoms. 

Seizures are

  • detrimental to the developing brain
  • negatively impact quality of life, and
  • increase the risk of developmental delay, injuries, and even death. 

Many seizure disorders can be managed successfully with medications (anticonvulsants), but about one third of children with epilepsy do not have their seizures controlled with medication and may be candidates for epilepsy surgery.  Epilepsy surgery now comes in many forms, including minimally invasive procedures. 

Why rely on Washington University experts for your child’s epilepsy treatment?

The Washington University Pediatric Epilepsy Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the nation.  The collective experience of the faculty spans decades and incorporates the latest technologies for diagnosis and treating epilepsy. 

Because of our deep expertise in pediatric epilepsy, for which patients travel from around the world, we offer a Pediatric Epilepsy Advanced Technologies Clinic (PEATC), a multidisciplinary concierge clinic to facilitate the evaluation of children and young adults with complex, treatment resistant epilepsy. 

Our center is proud of our excellent outcomes and low complications rates. Over 1,000 patients have undergone epilepsy surgery at our center since 2003 with excellent seizure control rates.

Epilepsy treatments

Seizures are detected, and their onset zones in the brain are localized using short and long-term scalp EEG including

  • high-density non-invasive scalp EEG
  • advanced imaging including 3T MRI, PET and SPECT scans
  • detailed neurocognitive testing, and
  • minimally invasive stereotactic EEG electrode implantation. 

Once seizures are identified, the most advanced and least invasive options for control of seizures are available, including

  • open resection and disconnections
  • laser ablation using both FDA-approved laser ablation systems, responsive neurostimulation and neuromodulation.

Depending on the patient’s particular situation, our neurosurgeons also offer other advanced options for treatment of pediatric epilepsy including: