Northwestern Medicine brings hope to patients with severe epilepsy


Specialists at Northwestern Medicine’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center recently started using a new surgical procedure that could change the lives of epileptics who are unable to control their seizures with medication.

Stereoelectroencephalography, or SEEG, is a ground-breaking procedure that is used to surgically identify areas of the brain where epileptic seizures originate. During SEEG, doctors place electrodes on these areas, which are then monitored to precisely locate the seizure source. When the seizure onset is localised, these lesions are destroyed with lasers. In some cases the lasers go through the same holes created by the SEEG. Northwestern Memorial Hospital is one of just a few centres in the USA to offer SEEG as a treatment option for epilepsy. 

“This procedure is the safest and least invasive surgical option to treat epilepsy today,” says Stephan Schuele, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and assistant professor in neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “For people who do not respond to medication, this is a very effective surgery with a lower risk of complications compared to traditional epilepsy surgeries.”

Because SEEG is more accurate and less invasive, patients experience better results and a shorter recovery time, Schuele adds. 

“SEEG is the perfect match of the latest medical advancements and leading edge technology, said Joshua Rosenow, director of functional neurosurgery at Northwestern Memorial and associate professor of neurological surgery, neurology, and physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Feinberg School.

“SEEG allows us to locate exactly where the seizures start in the brain and on a microscopic level destroy some of these lesions,” Rosenow says. “The results are extremely promising. Once they recover from surgery, most of these patients live seizure-free lives.”