Tonic Clonic Seizure Treatment

Our approach

The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center of the Neuroscience Institute offers a variety of medical and surgical treatment options to control and prevent tonic clonic seizures. Our multidisciplinary team offers leading edge treatments including disconnection surgery, as well as stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG), laser ablation, combined stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) and laser ablation, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and Gamma Knife. The expert team at the Epilepsy Center performs between 50 and 100 epilepsy surgeries each year, and 90 percent of patients are either seizure-free or have reduced seizures one year after surgery. 

Tonic clonic seizure treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with tonic clonic seizures, also called focal seizures, you’ll be prescribed an anti-seizure medication. Your doctor will start with a low dosage and adjust this based upon what is needed to control your seizures. Additional partial epilepsy treatments may include lifestyle changes. If these treatment options are not effective in controlling seizures, surgery may be recommended. Types of surgery used to treat focal surgery include:

  • Disconnection surgery – cutting the nerve fibers to interrupt the spread of seizures from hemisphere to hemisphere within the brain.
  • Focal resection – removing a portion of the brain where seizures originate.
  • Hemispherectomy – removing almost an entire side of the brain to eliminate the area responsible for causing seizures.
  • Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) – Implanting a small pacemaker-like device into the chest to stimulate the vagus nerve to reduce the likelihood of seizures

Tonic clonic seizure treatment risks

Medication to control tonic clonic seizures is often highly effective. However, there are often side effects which include:

  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia

Surgery should only be considered if anti-seizure medications have not been effective at controlling seizures. As with any surgery, there are general risks with procedures to control focal seizures. These include:

  • Blood clots
  • Blood loss
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Reaction to medication

Additionally, there are side effects that may occur after the surgical procedures, including:

  • Scalp numbness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Loss of memory

What to expect after treatment

Following surgical treatment for tonic clonic seizures, you will typically stay in the hospital for several days. Most patients can return to normal activities within six to eight weeks. Although the surgery should help minimize your seizures, you will need to continue to take anti-seizure medication prescribed by your doctor.