Sixty Seizures to None: Young Girl Overcomes Epilepsy

Cutting edge medicine: Novel brain imaging pinpoints source of teen's seizures.

ByABC News via GMA logo
February 2, 2010, 4:04 PM

Feb. 3, 2010— -- Amanda Momberg of Cedarburg, Wis., was 8 years old when she fell to the kitchen floor and experienced her first epileptic seizure.

"I would shake on one side and I couldn't talk," she said. "But I would hear people talking to me."

For most of her life, she took medication to control the seizures. But in December 2008, at age 16, the medications stopped working. Amanda suddenly started having 60 to 100 seizures a day.

"It was awful," said Amanda's mother, Kathy Momberg. "I was not in control; you couldn't do anything about it."

Doctors hoped surgery would help, but the surgeons' first attempt to remove the part of her brain causing the seizures was not successful.

"That's when the topic of MEG scan came up," said Kathy Momberg.

Magnetoencophalography, or MEG, is an imaging technique used by doctors to detect changes in the brain. But unlike other imaging tests, the MEG scanner tracks changes in the brain instantaneously.

Because of Amanda's nearly continuous seizures, Dr. Manoj Raghavan, a neurologist at Froedtert & Medical College in Milwaukee., suggested using MEG to see if there were more parts of Amanda's brain tissue involved in the seizures they could remove without affecting vital parts of her brain.

The MEG scanner 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 like Amanda, those extra milliseconds can mean the difference between life and death.

When Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin received the MEG scanner, Amanda became their first patient.