You have intractable epilepsy when the medications or other medical treatments prescribed to treat your epilepsy fail to control your seizures. If this happens to you, your doctor likely will discuss alternative ways of keeping your seizures at bay. These alternative treatments may include a very restrictive diet or even surgery.
Intractable epilepsy can go by several different names, including refractory epilepsy, treatment-resistant epilepsy, uncontrolled epilepsy or drug-resistant epilepsy.
You may also hear physicians talk about “intractable seizures.” All of these names mean basically the same thing: treatments haven’t brought your epilepsy under control.
This situation is more common than you’d think in epilepsy — some 30% of everyone with epilepsy continue to have seizures that interfere with their quality of life despite taking medication. If you expand the definition of intractable epilepsy to include anyone who has a seizure while on medication (as some researchers and clinicians suggest), the numbers are even higher.