How people with complex or drug-resistant epilepsy benefit from an epileptologist's care

Although general neurologists and even primary care physicians can effectively manage many cases of epilepsy, patients with complex cases — particularly refractory (drug-resistant) epilepsy — or individuals considering surgery can benefit from consulting an epileptologist. An epileptologist is a neurologist who has extensive training in diagnosing and managing epilepsy, and optimizing drug treatment plans.

When you schedule an appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, you can anticipate a thorough and evaluation by one of our specialized team members. Your epileptologist will start by exploring your detailed medical history, paying particular attention to your seizure experiences, potential triggers and overall health. Your evaluation likely will include diagnostic tests, such as an EEG or imaging studies. During the appointment, you’ll be asked to describe your seizures to the best of your ability. We encourage prospective patients to keep a seizure diary documenting:

  • dates and times when your seizures took place
  • what you were doing before the seizures occurred
  • any warning symptoms beforehand
  • any triggers you suspect or have identified (such as food, alcohol or insufficient sleep)
  • what the seizure looked like
  • seizure length
  • how you felt afterward
  • your recovery time

After evaluating your test results and making a diagnosis, your epileptologist will discuss potential treatment options, which can encompass lifestyle modifications, medications and possibly corrective surgery. The doctor will review proper medication management instructions with you, including how and when to take it, dosage, and potential side effects. Your epileptologist also may give you educational materials, and perhaps recommend community resources. Your UC Davis epileptologist will develop a personalized long-term monitoring, support and management plan for you.