Introducing the region’s first Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, now open at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center
Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center is known for offering the latest advancements in neurology, neurosurgery, spine surgery and neurointerventional radiology. Now, Fort Sanders Regional has opened an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) as part of its Neuro-Spine Center of Excellence. This new unit is the only one of its kind in the region and is highly effective for diagnosing patients suffering from epilepsy.
Commitment to Service in the Region
The new EMU is the first in East Tennessee, and with Dr. Paige and a team of electroencephalogram (EEG) technologists and nurses, will bring national-quality epilepsy care closer to home.
“There is a tremendous need for this service in East Tennessee,” Dr. Paige says. “To bring an epilepsy monitoring unit in Knoxville is important and gratifying to me. But another very important mission is to help patients and families better understand epilepsy and the community resources available to them.”
The Fort Sanders Regional EMU admits patients strongly suspected of having epileptic seizures – most will already be taking seizure medicines. However, epilepsy is only one of the many medical conditions that may cause someone to shake, fall or stare. In approximately one-third of cases, EMU monitoring shows doctors that something other than epilepsy is causing the patient’s seizure-like spells. It is essential to identify these non-epileptic patients because anti-seizure medicines do not help spells caused by other medical conditions.
Also, for those patients confirmed to have epilepsy, the EMU data will often suggest better treatments for their seizures. Confirming the cause of a patient’s spells, whether seizures or another condition, is the first step in identifying the best treatment.
Staying at the EMU
Patients are typically referred for admission to the EMU by their neurologist. The goal is to record one or more of the patient’s typical spells using both video and EEG. Because seizures tend to occur randomly, this goal is typically accomplished within a three-to-four-day EMU stay. Reducing seizure medicine and encouraging the patient to stay up late makes it even more likely to record one of the patient’s spells.
Dr. Paige meets with every patient to see how they feel and to discuss their progress. Overnight, specially trained Fort Sanders Regional neuro-critical care doctors are available to keep EMU patients safe in the event of strong seizures.
At the end of the stay, Dr. Paige will discuss each patient’s diagnosis and suggest a treatment plan. For those patients diagnosed with epilepsy, the treatment plan is started before leaving the hospital, and a follow-up appointment with Dr. Paige is scheduled. If EMU testing shows that the patient does not have epilepsy, the neurologist or general doctor will consider further testing to look for the cause of the spells.