Expanded Seizure-monitoring Unit at MU Children’s Hospital Helps Physicians Pinpoint Causes, Treatments
Physicians at University of Missouri Children’s Hospital now have an advanced way of monitoring young patients who suffer with seizures. The expanded epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) at MU Children’s Hospital allows medical teams to study a patient’s brain waves and seizure activity in real time.
Epilepsy is a disease of the central nervous system in which electrical signals of the brain misfire, causing temporary communication problems between nerve cells and leading to seizures. Seizure monitoring is critical in accurate diagnosis and treatment for each patient.
“Just by watching a patient or having a patient describe what is happening, we can’t always tell the exact cause or determine the most effective treatment,” said Arayamparambil Anilkumar, M.D., a pediatric neurologist specializing in epilepsy and associate professor of child health at the MU School of Medicine. “This monitoring lets us look at brain activity in real time, giving us a precise diagnosis and understanding of what is causing the seizure.”
More than 45,000 children ages 18 and younger are diagnosed with epilepsy each year, increasing the need for specialized areas like the EMU at MU Children’s Hospital. With the information gathered, physicians are better able to pinpoint the location of seizure activity in the brain, prescribe appropriate medication and determine if surgery is needed.
A patient in the epilepsy monitoring unit has continuous video electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring. Real-time results are relayed to a viewing station, where teams of health care providers watch for brain activity, before during and after a seizure. The unit, which includes five rooms, allows patients to be tested under the supervision of specialized technicians and nurses, creating a safe and controlled environment for each patient. The hospital stays will vary depending on the patient’s condition. Most monitoring will last between one day and up to a week.
In addition to monitoring patients with epilepsy, the technology can help MU physicians identify causes of unexplained sleep apnea in young children, as well as other seizure disorders.
“Many people think epilepsy is a life-long condition, but it is not,” Anilkumar said. “We can help people have freedom from seizures after finding out the cause and getting correct treatment. A person using the wrong seizure medicine can cause more complications and experience more unusual activity. By finding the root of the problem, we are able to help these children achieve their full potential in education, sports and other life events.”
International Epilepsy Day is the second Monday of February each year. It is a worldwide movement to raise awareness about epilepsy and seizures.
[Click here] for high-resolution photos of the epilepsy monitoring unit rooms and Arayamparambil Anilkumar, M.D. (.zip)