Epilepsy in children can take many forms. When antiseizure medications aren’t effective, finding the next step for your child’s treatment may take time and multiple tests. At the Washington University Pediatric Epilepsy Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, we can help. 

Our team includes national leaders in epilepsy care. We use the latest care advances to help control or eliminate seizures in some of the most difficult-to-treat cases of pediatric epilepsy. Our commitment to families means we streamline services and help you navigate your child’s care.

Snapshot of Your Child’s Epilepsy Journey

Your child’s epilepsy care will be customized to their health and your family’s needs. Here’s a breakdown of common steps in the epilepsy care process:

Comprehensive epilepsy evaluation

When we first meet you, our pediatric epilepsy experts (called epileptologists) fully evaluate your child’s health. A doctor will review all of your child’s records, including any previous medical tests, before the first visit. At the visit, we will ask you questions about your child’s medical and developmental history. We will also complete a thorough medical exam. 

Diagnostic testing for precise epilepsy diagnosis

Often, children need one or more additional tests after an initial evaluation. These test results tell us important details about why your child has seizures and where they start in the brain. We use the latest diagnostic tools to provide a precise epilepsy diagnosis. 

Tests may include: 

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG): An outpatient procedure where electrodes attached to your child’s head measure brainwave patterns
  • Video EEG: A more detailed EEG, where your child stays overnight in our sophisticated Epilepsy Monitoring Unit
  • Advanced imaging tests, such as MRI images
  • Genetic tests, if doctors suspect a genetic cause of your child’s seizures

Personalized treatment for children with epilepsy

A well-informed diagnosis helps guide us to the most effective treatment for your child. Here, pediatric specialists with different epilepsy expertise meet to discuss your child’s care. Together, we work with families to create a treatment plan with the best odds of offering your child significant relief.

Your doctor may recommend one or more epilepsy treatments:

  • Medication: Antiseizure medication effectively manages seizures for most children with epilepsy. We stay up to date with the newest and most effective medications available today.
  • Dietary therapies: Changing what your child eats may lessen or eliminate seizure symptoms when medication isn’t effective. One-third of children who closely follow our strict ketogenic diet principles experience significant or total seizure relief, long term.
  • Epilepsy surgery: When other therapies fail, surgery may offer new hope to children affected by the most difficult-to-treat seizures. Our skilled surgeons perform all forms of epilepsy surgery. A surgical procedure may treat seizures by removing or destroying faulty brain tissue.
  • Neurostimulation: A surgeon implants a battery-operated device in your child’s chest wall or scalp. This device emits bursts of energy to the vagus nerve or brain to stop or lessen seizures. 

Evaluation for epilepsy surgery, neurostimulation or dietary therapy

If your doctor considers surgery, neurostimulation or dietary therapy as a potential treatment option, your child may need additional tests. These tests help our experts determine the best option for your child. 

Additional tests may include noninvasive imaging tests, such as functional MRI, or diagnostic surgical procedures. If surgery may be the best option, these tests help us plan for your child’s surgery, making the procedures much safer. A nurse navigator will help guide you and your child through the process. 

Learn more about the epilepsy surgery evaluation process.

Long-term epilepsy follow-up care

It may take months or longer to find the right treatment (or combination of treatments) to manage your child’s epilepsy. We’re committed to finding a lasting solution to eliminate or minimize epilepsy’s impact on your child’s life.

Once we’ve achieved your child’s personalized treatment goals, we continue to check in with you during your child’s life. Periodic follow-up visits and close coordination with your child’s primary neurologist help us monitor a treatment’s success. We’re also here to help you address any new challenges that may surface later in your child’s life.