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Anti-seizure medications are the first-line treatment for epilepsy, and may be prescribed to relieve your child's seizures or reduce their frequency. If three to five medications have been prescribed and do not work to control your child's seizures, our pediatric experts may recommend evaluation for surgery, consideration of dietary therapy, or placement of a neurostimulator device as the next step.

Vagus nerve stimulator (VNS)

A pacemaker-like device is implanted in the chest wall with a wire that connects to your child's left vagus nerve in their neck. The device delivers weak electrical pulses that prevent seizures. Our epilepsy specialists also offer investigational VNS trials to test new ways to program the VNS to detect seizures before they happen.

Responsive Neurostimulator

This device is implanted into the skull and connects to electrodes placed directly on or in the brain. The RNS monitors your child's ongoing brain waves and gives small electrical shocks to interrupt the electrical patterns that may lead to seizures. This device is not yet approved for use in children, but clinical trials are ongoing.

Dietary Therapy

A dietitian works closely with you and may recommend a low glycemic index diet, modified Atkins diet or Ketogenic diet - eating plans that have been effective in controlling seizures in some patients. These plans restrict carbohydrates and focus on high-fat, high-protein foods that may help the body generate and build up ketones, which can prevent seizures through several different mechanisms, making it an effective treatment for more than 60% of patients with hard to control epilepsy syndromes. URMC is a Charlie Foundation registered Dietary therapy center.


As a designated Level 4 epilepsy center, our neurosurgeons are specially trained in epilepsy surgery. The most common surgical procedures we use to treat epilepsy include:

  • Anterior temporal lobectomy. Removes a portion of the brain’s temporal lobe, the most common area for seizure activity to start. This approach has a high degree of success in achieving long-term seizure freedom.
  • Resection of seizure-causing lesions or scars. Removes tumors, vascular malformation, and developmental abnormalities that can cause seizures.
  • Cortical resection. Removes brain tissue outside of the temporal lobe that is a source of seizure activity.
  • Hemispherectomy. Removes portions of one half of the brain (a ‘hemisphere’) where seizures occur and cuts the corpus callosum that connects the two hemispheres. As a result, seizure activity cannot spread from one half of the brain to the other.