Carefully planned surgery provides innovative epilepsy cure

Zack Logan first noticed strange rush-like feelings when he was a child. He didn’t tell anyone, even though the feelings became more frequent and intense. It was only after he had a convulsive seizure, three years ago while working as a line cook at the Halifax Infirmary cafeteria, that Zack realized his earlier experiences had also been seizures.

“I was cracking an egg onto the grill and the next thing I remember, I was sitting in emergency in a wheelchair in my work clothes, with a badly burned forearm,” recalls Zack, now 25. He’s fortunate his coworker, Rolanda Kane, noticed him leaning oddly over the grill. She ran to him, grabbed his arm off the grill and eased him to the floor before he fell face first.

Emergency physicians referred Zack to Dr. Mark Sadler, a neurologist who specializes in definitively diagnosing epilepsy by taking a careful history and examining the results of a variety of electrophysiology and imaging studies. These include MRI and EEG (electroencephalography) studies conducted over days or weeks in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU). Dr. Sadler diagnosed Zack’s epilepsy after just five days and located the source of the seizures in a small area of his right temporal lobe.

“Because the seizures were coming from a small area, I could have surgery to possibly cure my epilepsy,” says Zack. “It was a scary prospect, but medications weren’t controlling my seizures and Dr. Sadler made me feel confident, so I went ahead.”

After thoroughly mapping Zack’s brain to ensure surgery wouldn’t disrupt vital functions, neurosurgeon Dr. David Clarke removed the area of misfiring neurons. Zack has been seizure free ever since. “Epilepsy was taking a toll and would have shortened my life,” says Zack. “Now I feel great and was inspired by my experience to re-train for a new job.”

This article is from Research Focus on Neuroscience (NSHA Research Services) (PDF)