Epilepsy is a disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. Seizures are caused by abnormal activity of nerve cells, called neurons, in the brain. In the United States, about 2 million people have epilepsy and as many as 150,000 more develop the condition each year. About a third of them are children.

Epilepsy has many possible causes, such as an imbalance of nerve-signaling chemicals, called neurotransmitters, or abnormal nerve connections that form after an injury such as head trauma or stroke. Other types of epilepsy run in families and have been tied to specific genes. Often, it may be difficult to understand why a specific person develops epilepsy, but this does not mean that effective treatment is impossible.

Our Approach to Epilepsy

At UCSF, we treat all forms of epilepsy and offer state-of-the-art options for diagnosis and therapy. Treatments include medications, surgery and implant devices as well as access to clinical trials of potential new therapies. Our expertise, innovation and leadership in epilepsy care have earned us a level 4 rating (the highest possible rating) from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Best hospital in Northern California

  • usnews-neurology

    Best in the U.S. in neurology & neurosurgery

  • Level4-2x

    Accredited level 4 epilepsy center (National Association of Epilepsy Centers)

  • n1-2x

    in the West for number of epilepsy surgeries performed

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.