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Epilepsy Patient Information

Brain shape with lit-up nerve structures

Clinical Services provided by the Alan Richens Unit/Welsh Epilepsy Centre:


The Teenage Epilepsy Clinic

The adolescent epilepsy clinic is held on the first Thursday of every month. This is a combined clinic with a consultant paediatric neurologist and a consultant neurologist. The adolescent epilepsy clinic was set up specifically for teenagers who had "outgrown paediatrics" to visit once before being referred for adult follow-up.


The Pre-Conceptual Counselling Service

It is recommended that all women of child bearing age who are prescribed anti-epileptic medication should receive accurate advice and counselling before planning any pregnancy. We are aware that some of the epilepsy drugs are not suitable for pregnancy, hence we are keen to receive all appropriate referrals to ensure that we provide our patient's with a first class service.


The Epilepsy and Pregnancy Liaison Service

The Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) works within the medical ante-natal clinic, which is held on Monday afternoons at UHW and Wednesday mornings at Llandough. The CNS reviews all women attending this clinic who have a diagnosis of epilepsy. This initial review will cover assessment of epilepsy, seizure type and medication. The patient will be given an information pack covering epilepsy and pregnancy. For patients who have been referred to the ante-natal clinic by their GP, the CNS will decide whether a referral to the epilepsy unit is appropriate. The patients are reviewed through their pregnancy with the CNS maintaining links with the Midwives and Obstetricians.


Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

Another type of epilepsy surgery, although it is not to the brain, is vagal nerve stimulation.  The vagal nerve is one of the many which carry messages to and from the brain.  In short, the operation involves attaching an electrode to the vagus nerve which is linked to a small generator (a small disk shaped device about 4cms diameter) inserted into an opening in the chest.

The generator is then programmed to continuously stimulate the nerve at varying frequencies, typically for 30 seconds every 5 minutes.  The frequency can be adjusted to the individual patients needs after the operation by using a laptop computer and wand.  Patients who experience an aura or warning before a seizure can also use this special magnet to manually activate the generator.

Pilot Helpline for epilepsy patients using email:

The epilepsy unit at the Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Wales, are piloting a helpline for patients to access on continuing issues regarding their diagnosis.  The rationale behind the services was provided by patients who are unable to drive and find it difficult to travel, requesting to use email for access to specialist advice.  The use of email is considered to be an ideal form of communication for the continuing management of a chronic illness.  It is intended to provide patients with a fast, convenient and informal form of written advice about the ongoing management on their diagnosis of epilepsy.  Please contact the Epilepsy Unit for more information.

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