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Division of Epilepsy

The Division of Epilepsy works through the UC Epilepsy Center, of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute. Our 8 fellowship trained neurology physicians make up the center, designated as the only adult Level 4 rated center in the region by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.

The Epilepsy Center at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute is one of the most experienced in the U.S., having performed epilepsy surgery for 30 years. Our physicians treat thousands of patients annually and are widely considered experts in diagnosing, treating and researching the disorder.

Over 3 million people in the US have epilepsy and at least 1/3 of them will have seizures that are incompletely controlled with medication. Epilepsy centers have an enormous role in evaluation and treatment of people with epilepsy because an epilepsy center is where the expertise and technology to best help those with medication refractory epilepsy is concentrated.

Academic Overview

For over 30 years, we have been a major training center for residents and fellows seeking advanced training in the evaluation and treatment of epilepsy. Many of our trainees lead epilepsy centers throughout the U.S.

The Epilepsy Division offers one-year Epilepsy fellowship training program that is ACGME-accredited for residents who have completed a neurology residency program.

Many of the Epilepsy Division members are national and international leaders in the field. Dr. Privitera served as President of the American Epilepsy Society in 2016. The AES is the largest organization in the world of professionals involved in epilepsy diagnosis, treatment and research. Dr. Ficker serves as the AES’ fellowship committee director and serves on the Professional Advisory Board of the national Epilepsy Foundation. Many faculty members have lectured throughout the US and the world.

Areas of Expertise

Our clinical expertise is in the evaluation and treatment of seizures, whether medication resistant, new onset, or requiring advanced video/EEG monitoring or surgery. All our faculty have advanced training in epilepsy and EEG.

The UCGNI Epilepsy Center provides advanced evaluation and coordinated medical and surgical treatment of epilepsy. The center has two inpatient epilepsy monitoring units: an eight-bed epilepsy monitoring unit at UC Medical Center and a new 4 bed unit at West Chester Hospital. These are the only adult epilepsy units in southwestern Ohio.

The unit combines expert neurological, neuropsychological and neurosurgical examination with 24-hour video recordings and EEG monitoring to discover the origin of seizures. Over 40 highly trained professionals form our epilepsy team. Over 5000 patients have been evaluated in our inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. Advanced strategies like stereo-EEG, ictal SPECT, and laser ablations for surgery have improved both the effectiveness and safety of epilepsy surgery. We can implant stimulation devices for epilepsy like vagus nerve stimulator, the NeuroPace Responsive NeuroStimulator, or the newly approved Deep Brain Stimulation for Epilepsy. All surgical cases are discussed in our multidisciplinary conference where experts in Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neuroradiology, Nuclear Medicine and Neuropsychology all collaborate to provide our patients the best outcome.

We also provide continuous video/EEG recordings in all the intensive care units of the UC Medical Center and West Chester Hospital. This way any patient with altered consciousness can be rapidly evaluated and monitored for the development of seizures or life threatening status epilepticus. We were one of the first centers in the country to offer this service and our early publications on the topic are recognized as seminal work in the field.

The UC Epilepsy Center's New Onset Seizure Clinic provides rapid access to epilepsy specialists for anyone with new onset of seizures or suspected seizures. Our epilepsy specialists see people within a few days to perform a comprehensive evaluation, create a treatment plan and provide education about the disorder. We believe people with a serious problem like a seizure should have access to the top specialists and the best treatments right from the start. Multiple studies in the US show that people with epilepsy wait much too long before they are seen by experts at an epilepsy center.

Research Activity

The Epilepsy Center research program, headed by Michael Privitera, MD, has been a national and international leader in the development of new antiepileptic medications for over 30 years. The team has participated in over 45 different clinical trials seeking to develop new medications to treat the most complex patients. These trials have pioneered new designs, and as one outstanding example, the Epilepsy Center was a key site for the groundbreaking research that led to the FDA approval of cannabidiol for epilepsy.

Dr. Privitera led a multicenter trial funded by FDA that showed generic seizure medications were equivalent to brand versions, even under the most rigorous standards.

Our center performed the first double blind, randomized trial of a non-pharmacological stress reduction method for seizures. We collaborate with our basic science colleagues to understand how stress can trigger seizures through chemical and hormonal changes in the brain.

For people with epilepsy, the unpredictability of seizures is one of the most disabling features of the disorder. Our research team has pioneered studies of stress, sleep, and mood to help forecast when a patient is most susceptible to a seizure occurring. Ongoing research with wearable devices to monitor cardiac function, sleep, stress, and anxiety aims to improve forecasting.

A major focus of research for over 20 years has been testing the safety of medications during pregnancy for women with epilepsy and their babies. The findings of these studies have been published in the world’s leading journals like the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and Lancet. In addition, the findings led the FDA (and medication regulatory agencies throughout the world) to substantially change the warnings on the medication valproate because of cognitive problems seen in children born to mothers taking valproate.

Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) is a rare but devastating complication of seizures. We have led studies of blood flow during seizures, and assessment of autonomic function during and between seizures to better assess SUDEP risk.

The Epilepsy Center pioneered the use of continuous EEG in ICUs and published seminal papers on the topic. This method is now used in ICUs throughout the world.

In the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, we have devised a simple method to accurately assess speech and language during and following seizures. This method helps determine the location of seizures in the brain as well as gives clues to the localization of speech and language areas. We have used this testing method on over 10,000 seizures. This testing makes our program for surgical treatment of epilepsy even more precise.

The pediatric epilepsy program, headed by Tracy Glauser, MD, at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, has been a leader as well. There are active studies of new and established antiepileptic medication, basic mechanisms of seizures, and studies of epilepsy surgery.

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Department of
Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine

Stetson Building Suite 2300
260 Stetson Street
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0525

Mail Location: 0525
Academic Phone: 513-558-2968
Academic Fax: 513-558-4887
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Clinic Phone: 513-475-8730
Clinic Fax: 513-475-8033