Genetic Testing for Epilepsy

The Neurogenetic Testing and Counseling Program at the Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Epilepsy Center offers genetic counseling and testing for adult patients with epilepsy. We are proud to be one of the only institutions in the country that offers this specialized program.

Genetic testing is important for many patients with epilepsy as it can sometimes provide an explanation for the cause of their epilepsy. In rare cases, identifying the genetic cause of an epilepsy syndrome can lead to identifications of personalized treatments. This is known as precision medicine.

Genetic counseling and genetic testing can also help you understand the likelihood of passing epilepsy on to your children.

You may be a candidate for genetic testing if you have one or more of the following:

  • A family history of epilepsy
  • Absence epilepsy
  • Malformations of brain development, including:
    • Periventricular nodular heterotopia
    • Abnormalities of the corpus callosum
    • Polymicrogyria
    • Schizencephaly
    • Multiple cavernous malformations
  • A diagnosis of Lennox-Gastaut or Dravet syndrome without a known genetic cause
  • Epilepsy associated with learning disabilities or an autism spectrum disorder
  • Drug-resistant epilepsy without a clear explanation

Genetic counseling is a key part of all genetic testing, which is why Northwestern Medicine offers a Neurogenetic Testing and Counseling Program. Genetic testing can produce anxiety, particularly if results are indeterminate. We aim to help you make informed decisions about pursuing genetic testing and support you after you receive results.

Our understanding of the genetics of epilepsy has been growing exponentially over the past 20 years, and there is still more to learn. The Adult Epilepsy Neurogenetics Program works closely with leading researchers, including those at the Gemma Carville Lab of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, whose primary goal is to use gene discovery and molecular biology approaches to identify new treatments for epilepsy.

The Adult Epilepsy Neurogenetics Program also offers you the opportunity to contribute to ongoing research in epilepsy genetics.

Locations Offering this Test