Epilepsy Treatment Options

Initial Evaluation

Many people with seizures are first seen in an emergency room. They are then treated as an outpatient by either a neurologist or a general medicine physician. Often, the diagnosis of epilepsy can be made by the person's seizure history.

About half of the people who experience a single seizure will never have another seizure, and treatment is not recommended. For those with recurrent seizures, which is epilepsy, anti-epileptic medication is used to prevent the seizures from occurring. In about 70 percent of patients, medication completely eliminates all seizure activity.

Some people may require additional evaluation steps to workup their epilepsy. This may include people for whom:

  • The cause of the seizures is unclear
  • Seizures continue to occur despite adequate medication
  • Side effects of the medication are intolerable

Outpatient Clinic Visit

At your initial office visit with one of the epilepsy neurologists at the Northwestern Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, patients are asked to bring the following information:

  • Medical records from outside hospital(s) and doctors
  • Standardized seizure questionnaire
  • Seizure diary
  • Medication log
  • Information from someone who has observed the seizure-this person can come to the visit or be available over the phone

At this initial visit, one of our epilepsy specialty nurses will review your seizure questionnaire, medication log and seizure diary with you; obtain medical, family and social history; and discuss health concerns. A neurologist who specializes in the treatment of epilepsy will obtain a detailed seizure history, asking about what your seizures look like and what happens just before they begin.

The doctor will also perform a thorough physical examination of the nervous system, including checking mental function such as memory, simple arithmetic, naming objects, movement, muscle strength, walking, balance and coordination, sensation and reflexes.

Related Resources


  • Video-EEG Monitoring: EEG portion of the test looks at electrical activity of the brain and the video recording shows how the body responds during a seizure.
  • Wada Testing: Learn more about this test, which examines each side of your brain.
  • Specialized Treatment for Epilepsy: The Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Epilepsy Center maintains the highest designation by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.