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Refractory Epilepsy

We are a reference centre for the diagnosis and treatment of drug-refractory epilepsy.

75% of epilepsy cases appear in childhood. Most affected children can improve their quality of life if they are diagnosed accurately and prescribed the appropriate treatment.

The SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital is a benchmark centre for the diagnosis and treatment of childhood drug-refractory epilepsy, with CSUR accreditation from the Spanish Ministry of Health. A highly specialised team of 4 epileptologists, 4 neurosurgeons specialising in epilepsy, 3 neuroradiologists, 2 neuropsychologists and a nursing team specifically dedicated to the Unit. We are one of the few centres in Spain that also has three monitoring beds for paediatric patients with epilepsy, enabling us to provide our patients with the highest quality care.

Patients with drug-refractory focal epilepsies may be candidates for surgical treatment. In the Epilepsy Unit, pre-surgical studies are carried out using the the newest techniques (functional neuroimaging, intracranial electrodes, etc.) to try to locate as accurately as possible the origin of the epilepsy, reducing the risk of post-surgical sequelae. Regarding the surgical approach, there is the possibility to perform resective surgery (removal of the epileptogenic focus), disconnective surgery (parieto-temporo-occipital hemispheriotomy and callosotomy), laser ablation (removal of the epileptogenic focus) and vagal stimulation or vagus nerve stimulation.

The Epilepsy Unit also performs the follow-up of patients with drug-refractory epilepsies without surgical indication (epileptic encephalopathies, generalized or multifocal epilepsies, focal epilepsies with involvement of eloquent regions). After a diagnostic assessment, in some cases palliative treatments are proposed, which include both the latest developments in antiepileptic drugs and other types of therapies (ketogenic diet, vagal stimulation).

Doctors from different specialties discuss each patient case-by-case. Additionally, we maintain a stable healthcare, teaching and research partnership with Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and with the Paediatric Epilepsy Unit of the University Hospital of Lyon, the largest in Europe. We prepare our teenage patients for the moment when they are to be treated at an adults' centre and we perform follow-up when they turn eighteen.

We provide the following services

Advanced technology

We have the most advanced technology for diagnosing and treating children and adolescents with epilepsy: continuous monitoring with a video electroencephalography (video EEG); structural neuroimaging (1.5 and 3 Tesla cerebral MR) and functional neuroimaging (PET, SPECT/SISCOM, functional MRI) techniques; metabolic diagnosis laboratory and genomic diagnostic platform.


Today there are drugs that are very effective for treating epilepsy. But in order to determine the most appropriate treatment in each case, it is important to have proper experience in accurately diagnosing which type of epilepsy is involved and the specific aspects of each case.

Dietary treatment

The ketogenic diet is a treatment that is complementary to drug treatment. It consists of a diet rich in fats and low in sugars, resulting in a state of ketosis which helps to improve seizure control. When our team considers this diet to be indicated, it works with the team of dieticians and nutritionists in the Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition department.


Some epilepsies do not respond to drugs but must be treated with surgery. Our multidisciplinary team assesses whether this might be the best option for the child. Our specialists perform accurate pre-surgery evaluations to determine which surgical option is best for each child.

Surgical specialties

Surgical techniques for diagnostic or curativ purposes

Implantation of intracranial electrodes

This technique is used to study complex epilepsy cases. If indicated by the study, the epileptogenic zone is removed surgically.

It is not covered by public health

Surgical removal of epilepsy focus

When it is possible to identify the area wher the seizure originates, this technique is used for curative purposes, when it does not lead to an unacceptable functional deficit.

It is not covered by public health


In cases where the epileptic seizures originate throughout one hemisphere, this procedure is used to completely disconnect the affected part.

It is not covered by public health

Laser thermal ablation

We are the only hospital in Spain that applies this pioneering minimally invasive treatment for epilepsy foci located in deep areas.

Surgical techniques for palliative care


This involves disconnecting one hemisphere from the other in cases where the epileptic seizures originate in both of them, with the aim of avoiding spreading and generalisation.

It is not covered by public health

Electric neurostimulation

This involves implanting a device that stimulates the central nervous system via intermittent electric pulses to control seizures.

It is not covered by public health

Our experience

More than
annual follow-up consultations
More than
annual hospital admissions
Transition processes
per year
every year

At the forefront of knowledge

Currently the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital is managing 3 research investigation´s projects related to children´s and adolescent´s epilepsy. We also carry out the clinical trials to study the efficacy and safety of antiepileptic drugs.

Read more about research

My daughter suffered 60 crises in one day. Since neurosurgery, epilepsy is no longer a problem.
Lourdes, mother of Gara, patient of the Epilepsy Unit
Laura doesn´t suffer more from the epileptic seizures after the undergoing of the 12-hour surgery in which the left hemisphere was disconnected by neurosurgeons very carefully, from millimetre to millimetre.
Ana Ballesta, mother of Laura

How to get your child admitted to SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital