Cortical Dysplasia in Children

Cortical dysplasia occurs when the top layer of the brain does not form properly. It is one of the most common causes of epilepsy. The most common type of cortical dysplasia is focal cortical dysplasia (FCD). There are three types of FCD: 

Type I − is hard to see on a brain scan. Often the patients do not start having seizures until they are adults. This type usually involves the temporal lobe of the brain. 

Type II is a more severe form of cortical dysplasia. It is seen more often in children. This type normally involves both the temporal and frontal lobe of the brain. 

Type III − includes one of the above described dysplasias. It also involves damage in another part of the brain.   This type may also be due to some form of brain injury early in life.

Cortical dysplasia is usually due to the brain not forming right. This often occurs before the child is born and is not a result of anything the mother took during pregnancy. Some other causes may be due to genetics or a brain injury.

The most common symptom of cortical dysplasia is seizures.  Some patients may also have problems with their ability to learn new things.

Treatment is focused on controlling the seizures. The doctor may start your child on medicine.  A special diet, called a ketogenic diet, may also be tried to help control the seizures.  

Brain surgery may be another treatment if the patient still has seizures after trying different medicines. Risks for surgery are infection, seizures and decreased motor function. Risks for not doing surgery are increased seizures, loss of skills, poor quality of life.  

Another treatment option may be a vagal nerve stimulator (VNS).  This may be considered if brain surgery is not an option. Risks for having VNS surgery are infection and continued seizures. Risks for not having a VNS include worsening seizures and poor quality of life.

Call your doctor if:

  • Seizures continue or get worse
  • There are any side effects to the medicine
  • You have any questions or concerns

Last Updated 05/2013