The Epilepsy Center at Children’s Health is a Level 4 Epilepsy Center, providing the highest level of treatment for children with epilepsy. That means we have experience identifying the genetic condition that causes cortical dysplasia, and in treating the condition.
What is Cortical Dysplasia?
Cortical dysplasia occurs before a child is born, when developing brain cells, or neurons, fail to reach the parts of the brain for which they are genetically destined. As a result, those areas of the brain lack the appropriate neural connections to function properly. This condition is one of the most common causes of epilepsy and seizures.
Cortical dysplasia is one of the most common types of epilepsy in children and is often associated with seizures that are difficult to control with medications. We were the first such program in the country to be certified by the Joint Commission, the nation’s preeminent standard-setting accrediting and certifying regulatory body in healthcare. Our interdisciplinary medical team has the experience to not only comprehensively diagnose children with this condition, but we remain the area’s only center to perform the most advanced procedures and therapies for the treatment of epilepsy.
Because this condition affects your child and your family, you will be glad to know we provide care for the whole family, including education and support.
In addition, the Epilepsy Center works with referring physicians and area Emergency Departments to:
- Provide seizure safety education programs
- Expedite appointments in order to get your child evaluated quickly
What are the signs and symptoms of Cortical Dysplasia?
The most common symptom of cortical dysplasia are seizures. Seizures include:
Tonic-clonic seizure: This type of seizure can involve shaking (called convulsions) combined with the body getting rigid, clenching the jaw, and biting the tongue. Some people still know this type of seizure as a grand mal seizure.
Absence seizure: This type of seizure may involve staring into space. Or your child may stop talking abruptly and then start talking again, or start repetitious movements like chewing their lips or moving a hand. These types used to be known as petit mal seizures.
Sometimes, before a seizure, your child may experience an aura, which results in your child smelling something that isn’t there, or in numbness or a tingling sensation.
How is Cortical Dysplasia diagnosed?
To diagnose epilepsy, your physician will do a detailed physical exam of your child, ask you about your child’s past medical history and family history, and learn as much as possible from you about how a seizure started and what you observed. If cortical dysplasia is suspected, testing may be prescribed including EEG and a tissue sample.
What are the causes of Cortical Dysplasia?
Cortical dysplasia is a brain defect that is present at birth. This condition is one of the most common causes of epilepsy and seizures.
How is Cortical Dysplasia treated?
Treatment for cortical dysplasia is focused on controlling the seizures. If your child is diagnosed with epilepsy, it is important to begin the right treatment, as quickly as possible. Untreated epilepsy can increase your child’s risk of serious injury from seizures. Seizures can also put your child at social and academic disadvantage.
Once tests are complete, your doctor may prescribe:
Anti-epileptic drugs work to control seizures. While these medications cause side effects (e.g., drowsiness, fatigue, rashes), they help someone with epilepsy lead a normal life. For most children with cortical dysplasia, seizures are difficult to control with medication
If seizures happen so often that they reduce a child’s quality of life, surgery may be necessary. Surgery can include removing the section of brain where seizures originate or implanting a small device that regulates electronic brain activity. The Epilepsy Center at Children’s Health’s epilepsy surgery program has a high rate of success, with our patient outcomes often exceeding those of other centers.
A ketogenic diet may be prescribed for your child which includes a regimen of high-fat, low-carbohydrate foods.