Wednesday, March 03, 2010
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayo Clinic has been designated a comprehensive epilepsy treatment center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC). Only the top epilepsy programs — those that can provide the most complex and advanced care — are selected for this designation, according to the association.
Recognizing the breadth of services offered at Mayo Clinic by awarding such a title is one way patients and their medical insurers can gain confidence in the capabilities of the epilepsy health care team, according Jerry J. Shih, M.D., a neurophysiologist at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida and director of its Comprehensive Epilepsy Program.
"We are delighted to receive this highest recognition because it reinforces the type of care we provide and we are proud of the service we give to our patients," says Dr. Shih. The epilepsy clinic has a roster of approximately 700 patients.
Epilepsy, a seizure disorder, occurs most commonly in the first five years of life due to congenital brain malformations, but can also increase in incidence again later in life given damage to the brain that as a result of strokes, tumors, or neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease.
Most seizures that result from epilepsy can be controlled with medication, but some patients require more complex care. Mayo's epilepsy care team, which includes specialized physicians, a neurosurgeon, neuropsychologist, radiologist, pharmacists, social worker, and epilepsy nurse specialists, among others, offers the full spectrum of care from diagnosis to treatment — including surgery if required.
"We are a level four treatment center, the highest designation, so that means we can do the specialized testing to see where in the brain the seizures arise, and then offer surgery to remove that area safely," Dr. Shih says. "Sometimes a patient's brain looks entirely normal so only through extensive testing can we find the source of the seizures."
To help with identification and treatment, Mayo Clinic opened an expanded state-of-the-art epilepsy monitoring unit at its hospital and in the fall of last year, began utilizing an intraoperative MRI machine to expedite surgical cases and enhance patient outcomes. In addition, the team recently welcomed William O. Tatum, III, D.O., to its staff. Tatum, an epileptologist, joined Mayo's staff from Tampa General Hospital where he served as chief of the Department of Neurology.
"Our goal is to provide the best care possible and help our patient live a more normal life because uncontrolled seizures can be a challenge to everyday living," Dr. Shih says.
He adds that the center is active in basic and translational research in order to better understand and treat the disease, and that patients have access to clinical trials testing the newest therapies. "Although the designation as a comprehensive epilepsy treatment center does not include these programs, we feel that it's our responsibility, given Mayo's history, to provide cutting edge treatment. And investigational therapies are of the utmost importance," Dr. Shih says.
For more information about Mayo Clinic's Epilepsy Center, to make an appointment or for information about clinical studies, please call 904-953-2498 or visit us online.
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Cindy N. Weiss
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