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May 21, 2013

Epilepsy program receives national designation

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The National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) has recognized the F.E. Dreifuss Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at University of Virginia Health System as a Level 4 Epilepsy Center, the association’s highest rating.

“Level 4 epilepsy centers have the professional expertise and facilities to provide the highest level medical and surgical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy,” according to a letter from NAEC recognizing UVA’s program.

UVA’s comprehensive epilepsy team includes epileptologists – neurologists who specialize in epilepsy care – along with neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, nurse case managers and social workers who can monitor and treat patients in a dedicated inpatient epilepsy unit or at an outpatient clinic.

“We are able to provide the most comprehensive care for our epilepsy patients, including all kinds of epilepsy surgery,” said Nathan Fountain, MD , the epilepsy program’s medical director. Along with surgery, UVA can also treat patients with medication or devices that help patients manage epileptic seizures.

UVA has also established a special team in its epilepsy unit – led by psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers – to treat patients with non-epileptic spells, a psychiatric condition that resembles epileptic seizures but is not actually caused by epilepsy.

UVA also has an extensive clinical research and clinical trials program in epilepsy. For example, neurologist Mark Quigg, MD, is helping lead an international clinical trial evaluating the use of Gamma Knife radiosurgery to treat patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy.

“We are always looking at new medications, devices and procedures to improve care for our patients,” Fountain said.

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