Epilepsy Talk

MEG — Could It CURE Your epilepsy? | February 18, 2011

Regardless of your age or epilepsy syndrome, all patients of all ages deserve the possibility of living seizure-free.  And for those with intractable seizures, surgery is often the answer.  But it’s a scary and risky proposition.

But, now there’s new hope when all else fails. A powerful new brain scanning tool which could make all the difference between successful and unsuccessful surgery.  Even for those whose surgery has failed before.

Called the MEG (Magnetoencephalography), this powerful scanner acts as a real-time brain mapping and imaging device to determine where the epicenters of seizures are in the brain.  It can detect changes in brain waves that occur on the order of milliseconds, as opposed to a second or more with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). And for a select few patients, those extra milliseconds can mean the difference between life and death.

For example, for patients who have brain tumors or other lesions, the MEG may be just the answer.  Because by mapping the exact location of the normally functioning areas near the lesion, the MEG can scan the areas and lead to more precise surgery — knowing exactly what parts of the brain tissue to leave intact while preserving healthy cells.

With MEG, clinicians can now map nerve cell activity in the brain non-invasively to see the brain in action, rather than analyzing a series of still images. The system simultaneously produces 306 separate recordings of magnetic activity and determines where it originates and which parts of the brain undertake various tasks.

A MEG scan can also determine how the brain functions both normally and in cases of illness. The graphical representations produced by the system can be sent directly into a navigational system used by neurosurgeons in the operating room to help guide them to the area of the brain that should be taken out, while at the same time marking vital centers and abnormalities — thereby improving surgical outcomes. And also protecting key functions such as sight, hearing, language and motor skills.

More good news: MEG has been approved for clinical use by Medicare as well as the Food and Drug Administration. In fact, many insurance companies are already covering MEG. However, this is often on a case-by-case basis and may require efforts on the part of the patient, the patient’s epileptologist and the MEG center to coordinate this process. And even more insurance companies are likely to cover MEG scans in the future because of their pre-surgery precision.  This scan can increase the likelihood that surgery will work.

“I think this is a great technology and I think it can help many people. I truly believe that with it, we will turn people who were not surgical candidates and who were destined to suffer into people who can be cured.” — Anto Bagic, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center.











  1. 21 year old son had a MEG, but sounds as if they didnt do enough..said they did not find anything.It was doer at MHI Mischer Neuroscience., think it best to have a seizure whil taking a MEG scan. is it possible?Cannot locate focus


    Comment by Jimmy — August 20, 2012 @ 8:07 AM

  2. I think it would be helpful to have a seizure, but I’m not sure it’s necessary.

    Here are some other testing options:

    Beyond EEGs…Diagnostic Tools for Epilepsy


    I hope this helps…


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 20, 2012 @ 10:40 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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