Refractory Epilepsy

Refractory epilepsy in children also is called intractable epilepsy or drug-resistant epilepsy. It means your child’s seizures aren’t controlled by two or more medications. The fellowship-trained and board-certified epileptologists with Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, are leaders in treating refractory epilepsy in children.

Our leaders use advanced technology, like Surgical Theater which collects hundreds of images of your child’s brain and compiles them into a vivid 3D digital model. Neurosurgeons explore this 3D digital model to better understand of your child’s epilepsy and even rehearse surgery ahead of time. You and your child can also explore the structures of their brain using virtual reality goggles.

Our providers are also at the leading edge using current anti-epileptic medications and are skilled in monitoring for side effects. We work to give your child as little medication as possible while maintaining or improving quality of life.

NAEC Level 4 Epilepsy Center

It’s not uncommon that a child with refractory epilepsy needs to see several neurosciences specialists and other epilepsy care providers. To help families reduce the number of trips needed for appointments, our multidisciplinary care team can arrange multiple appointments on one date and at one location.

Our multidisciplinary care team includes a dietitian who can guide you and your child on meal plans that can help control epilepsy. This team of specialists with different training and experiences will bring a range of viewpoints and opinions as part of formulating your child’s customized care plan.

A part of the plan can include the ketogenic diet, modified Atkins diet and low glycemic index diet. Children who are treated with epilepsy diets are monitored at the Norton Children’s Ketogenic Diet Clinic and have regular checkups to monitor growth, bone health, electrolytes and other health metrics.

Surgery for Refractory Epilepsy in Children

Surgery may be an option for children with refractory epilepsy. Brain surgery typically is elective and can come with risks and benefits depending on where in your child’s brain the seizures happen.

Surgery can be a difficult decision for a parent — weighing the chance of reducing or eliminating seizures against the risk of abnormal brain function.

We know you’ll be given a lot of information during your child’s office visit and you’ll have many questions. Our refractory epilepsy care providers will give you a detailed packet of information with images of your child’s brain that explains where the seizures are happening and how they affect the brain. Our providers will clearly explain the potential risks and benefits, and why your child’s neurosurgeon is recommending a particular approach.

Take your time. Study the information. Use it in your research. When you are ready to discuss options with a neurosurgeon, we’ll be here to answer any questions. If you decide you don’t want to move forward with surgery, we’ll continue working with your child to ease their refractory epilepsy.

Why Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute?

  • The Norton Children’s Hospital Comprehensive Epilepsy Center is a Level 4 epilepsy center, the highest rating available from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers. Norton Children’s Hospital has held this designation since 2013.
  • We are the first in Kentucky and among the first in the nation to use neurostimulation in a pediatric patient.
  • Regional neurology care is available for children across Kentucky and Southern Indiana. We travel to clinics in Bowling Green, Campbellsville, Corbin, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, Owensboro and Paducah, Kentucky; and Evansville, Indiana. We also perform a number of telemedicine visits each week.
  • The specialists with Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, use state-of-the-art technology to treat epilepsy, uncontrollable seizures and deep brain tumors in children who, in the past, would not be candidates for surgery. This technology includes:
    • Visualase: Technology that allows neurosurgeons to perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided laser ablation surgery. Fewer than two dozen pediatric hospitals in the U.S. offer this technology.
    • Surgical Theater: Virtual reality technology that creates an immersive 3D view of a patient’s brain, allowing neurosurgeons, the patient and family to see inside the skull and brain to get a greater understanding of the condition and impact of potential procedures. Norton Children’s Hospital is the first hospital in the region to use this technology.
  • We offer dedicated multidisciplinary clinics for brain tumors, traumatic brain injuries, spina bifida, craniofacial injuries and disorders, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, spasticity, headache/migraine, autism and neurocutaneous disorders.
  • Our multidisciplinary craniofacial program was the first established in the Midwest.
  • We offer a neurogenetics clinic to evaluate and treat children with neurogenetic syndromes.
  • We have a neuropsychology program that specializes in the evaluation of children and teens with a variety of neurological, neurodevelopmental and medical conditions, including brain tumors and epilepsy.
  • Outpatient neurology facilities in downtown Louisville are equipped with in-office electroencephalography (EEG) capabilities and laboratory services in the same building, creating a streamlined, family-centered environment.
  • We offer the region’s first clinic to treat children with immune-mediated neurological disorders.
Neuroscience

Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute

Connect with the Norton Children’s
Neurology Team

(502) 588-3650


Connect with the Norton Children’s
Neurosurgery Team

(502) 583-1697


Request an Appointment Online

One type of seizure can cause brain damage and needs emergency treatment

A seizure that lasts more than five minutes, or at least two seizures without full recovery in between, can cause brain damage or worse in children and newborns. Call 911 and get emergency treatment immediately. […]

Read Full Story

A neurologist isn’t always necessary for child’s concussion treatment

If your child has experienced a concussion, whether it happened during a sporting event or another type of accident, seeing a neurologist is not always necessary. Most primary care providers are able to offer guidance […]

Read Full Story

Children’s excessive screen time could cause headaches from eyestrain

Spending too much time staring at a screen, such as a phone, tablet or computer, can cause digital eyestrain, a key trigger in headaches, and with online school and fewer in-person activities during the COVID-19 […]

Read Full Story

When does a baby’s soft spot go away?

Ian S. Mutchnick, M.D. is a pediatric neurosurgeon with Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. Babies’ brains grow very quickly. Therefore, the bones of a baby’s skull are not connected […]

Read Full Story

Child with brain injury achieving better movement with spasticity care

In October 2009, Clayton Fackler was “a pretty typical 3-year-old,” according to his mother, Susan Fackler. The family was outside playing when Clayton suddenly collapsed, going into cardiac arrest. From there, Clayton would begin a […]

Read Full Story
Related Stories

One type of seizure can cause brain damage and needs emergency treatment

A seizure that lasts more than five minutes, or at least two seizures without full recovery in between, can cause brain damage or worse in children and newborns. Call 911 and get emergency treatment immediately. […]

Read Full Story

A neurologist isn’t always necessary for child’s concussion treatment

If your child has experienced a concussion, whether it happened during a sporting event or another type of accident, seeing a neurologist is not always necessary. Most primary care providers are able to offer guidance […]

Read Full Story

Children’s excessive screen time could cause headaches from eyestrain

Spending too much time staring at a screen, such as a phone, tablet or computer, can cause digital eyestrain, a key trigger in headaches, and with online school and fewer in-person activities during the COVID-19 […]

Read Full Story

When does a baby’s soft spot go away?

Ian S. Mutchnick, M.D. is a pediatric neurosurgeon with Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. Babies’ brains grow very quickly. Therefore, the bones of a baby’s skull are not connected […]

Read Full Story

Child with brain injury achieving better movement with spasticity care

In October 2009, Clayton Fackler was “a pretty typical 3-year-old,” according to his mother, Susan Fackler. The family was outside playing when Clayton suddenly collapsed, going into cardiac arrest. From there, Clayton would begin a […]

Read Full Story

Search our entire site.