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Epilepsy Center

At a Glance: Our Epilepsy Center

A worry we hear frequently from our epilepsy patients is feeling scared, or even trapped, as they anticipate their next seizure; not knowing the circumstances that will surround it. At the Barrow Epilepsy Center, we understand that the first step to alleviating these fears is finding concrete answers, starting with the root cause of you or your loved one’s epilepsy.

This is only the first step in creating a tailor-made treatment plan: at the core of our clinical Epilepsy Center is a collaborative team of epileptologists and an advanced epilepsy monitoring unit where our patients have access to advanced diagnostics and a swath of specialists—all on one campus. Together, we monitor seizures as they happen using specialized equipment, then create a custom treatment plan that can include epilepsy medication, surgical procedures, or a combination of both.

We realize the process of finding the optimal treatment for epilepsy can take longer than most patients would like. To stay the course, we commit to weekly meetings with every one of our epilepsy specialists make sure your treatment plan is being appropriately tracked and discussed. Here, you’ll rest assured you’re receiving the right treatment at the right time.

For more information about the Epilepsy Center at Barrow Neurological Institute, please call (602) 406-6262.

Vladimir Shvarts, MD, director of the Barrow Epilepsy Center

The Barrow Difference

The Epilepsy Center at Barrow Neurological Institute is an internationally recognized leader in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy.

In fact, our Epilepsy Center has received accreditation as a Level 4 Comprehensive Epilepsy Center from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers. This designation recognizes epilepsy centers with the professional expertise and facilities necessary to provide the highest level of medical and surgical evaluation, as well as treatment, for patients with complex epilepsy.

doctor and patient talking

Magnetoencephalography (MEG)

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) uses advanced superconducting technology to measure tiny magnetic fields in your brain. Unlike EEG, the magnetic fields detected with MEG are not disrupted by the skull, allowing us to locate signals that EEG may miss. We use MEG to help identify surgical candidates and guide surgical approaches for people with epilepsy or brain tumors. The MEG system at Barrow is the only device of its kind in Arizona.

For patients with epilepsy, MEG plays a crucial role in mapping possible seizure origins and identifying brain areas to preserve during surgery. This helps our team devise tailored treatment plans to alleviate seizures while minimizing the risk of cognitive impairment.

Combining MEG and EEG with other neuroimaging tools in our testing laboratory enhances our ability to pinpoint the source of seizure activity with great accuracy. Additionally, our team works directly with the neurosurgeons at Barrow to develop highly personalized surgical strategies.

doctor analyzing brain scans on a digital tablet

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)

The Barrow Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) has 12 beds wired for continuous video-EEG, which allows for continual monitoring of patients’ brain wave activity. Patients are admitted to the EMU for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • To determine the nature and cause of seizure activity
  • To adjust medications for epilepsy and seizures
  • To evaluate and plan for epilepsy surgery.

Typically, people are admitted to the EMU for multiple days to accomplish these goals. During this time, brain waves and physical activity are continuously monitored through simultaneous EEG and audio/video observation. It’s our goal that admission to the EMU is an educational experience, allowing you to learn more about your seizures, epilepsy in general, and possible treatments that can alleviate or eliminate your symptoms.

neurosurgical oncologist kris smith in the operating room

Epilepsy Surgery Program

The Barrow Epilepsy Surgery Program is a collaborative partnership between the Departments of Neurosurgery, Neurology, Neuropsychology, and Neuroradiology to provide hope for people with epilepsy that doesn’t respond to medications. For many of these patients, surgery can significantly improve their quality of life and reduce or eliminate seizures.

Patients considering epilepsy surgery participate in an evaluation that includes:

  • Evaluation in our epilepsy monitoring unit
  • MRI scans, PET scans, Wada, High Density EEG, and MEG neuroimaging for a sophisticated analysis and review in our epilepsy surgical conference to determine which procedure will be most beneficial

Our team performs between 50-100 epilepsy surgeries each year. These include intracranial EEG procedures, the placement of all available neuromodulation devices—vagal nerve stimulation (VNS), deep brain stimulation (DBS), and responsive neurostimulation (RNS)—as well as laser-based approaches and minimally invasive resections.

Portrait of Anna Costina in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

"I want to be the place where everyone clamors to be employed and all the patients travel from far and wide to get their neurodiagnostics needs met."

Anna Costina Manager, Barrow Electroneurodiagnostics


Barrow Neurological Institute campus in 3D

Support & Wellness


Nutrition for Epilepsy

Nutrition for Epilepsy

Seizure Action Plan and Rescue Medicines

Seizure Action Plan and Rescue Medicines

Epilepsy Overview

Epilepsy Overview

Minding What Matters Most

Minding What Matters Most