• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Specialized imaging and targeted brain surgery for epilepsy

July 21, 2019

There was a time when Gavin Vreeland was afraid he might hurt his daughter should he have a seizure while caring for her. Despite taking medication, his epileptic episodes happened frequently and without warning. But after specialized imaging and targeted brain surgery at Mayo Clinic, Gavin is now happily embracing his little one seizure-free.


Gavin Vreeland was fed up. For more than 11 years, the resident of Kahoka, Missouri, lived with alarming seizures that stopped him in his tracks. The seizures caused his lips to smack, his eyes to glaze over and his hands to tighten their grip. More often than not, he'd black out.

Numerous physicians agreed Gavin's seizures were epileptic, but the source of the abnormal activity remained a mystery despite multiple MRI scans of his brain. Gavin took dozens of pills a day to control the episodes, but the seizures continued.

Not only was Gavin frustrated by the lack of improvement in his seizure activity, so was his hometown neurologist. "We were tired of trying a bunch of medications, and he finally said: 'Let's change things. I'm going to recommend you to Mayo Clinic,'" Gavin says.

In February 2018, Gavin met neurologist Jeffrey Britton, M.D., at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. Dr. Britton recommended Gavin undergo a specialized MRI scan to learn more about his condition. Gavin's care team used the MRI images to identify a defect in his brain, known as a temporal lobe encephalocele, as the cause of the seizures. A month later, Gavin underwent brain surgery during which Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon Jamie Van Gompel, M.D., removed the encephalocele.

Now more than a year later, Gavin hasn't had any seizures since his operation. He's reduced his medications. He's back to work and happy to be living life without worrying about being hit by a seizure.

Read the rest of Gavin's story.
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This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.

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