Question and Answer with Dr. Pathmanathan

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Dr. Jay Pathmanathan is assistant professor of Neurology, Director of Electroencephalography and Penn Epilepsy Fellowship Director at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He sees patients at the Penn Neuroscience Center at Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine and specializes in the treatment of seizures and epilepsy, focusing on electrophysiology (EP) testing and epilepsy clinical trials.

dr. jay pathmanathan

What is your role at the Penn Epilepsy Center?

I am the medical director of EEG, managing the daily operations of the various EEG labs and staff. I also direct the Penn Epilepsy Fellowship, one of the country’s premier training programs for future epileptologists.

Describe some of the diagnostic tools used at the Penn Epilepsy Center and the benefits for patients.

The Penn Epilepsy Center utilizes the most advanced diagnostic and treatment tools available to treat patients with epilepsy. Tools at our disposal include scalp EEG (electrodes stuck painlessly to the skin), intracranial EEG (electrodes surgically placed on top of or into the brain), high resolution epilepsy protocol 3T MRI, functional imaging (including fMRI, magnetoencephalography (MEG), PET, SPECT, and EEG source reconstruction), and neuropsychological testing. Most patients will not need all of these tests, but when necessary this range of testing allows us to best diagnose and treat even the most difficult to control types of epilepsy.

What is the most exciting thing about being a part of the Penn Epilepsy Center?

The Penn Epilepsy Center is one of the country’s best epilepsy treatment programs, but more than that represents a place where patients come first. The most exciting aspect of epilepsy care here at Penn is the relationships we build with our patients, and seeing our patients triumph over the challenges of epilepsy and living with seizures.

What is your philosophy on patient care?

Every patient is unique. Although epilepsy is common, it is a different experience for each and every one of my patients. Optimal patient care is not just about prescribing the right medicine or recommending the safest surgery – it is about understanding how epilepsy and the treatment affects you.

What kinds of research will you be involved with at Penn?

Despite being common, the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy is sometimes challenging simply because the tools we use today are limited. Most patients with epilepsy will actually have no problems on their first EEG. Even when we know that a person has epilepsy, it is often challenging to figure out where it comes from. I examine the signals within the EEG to help design better computer algorithms to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of EEG. I use these same principles to also conduct research on how to improve the education of the next generation of physicians.

What do you do outside of practicing medicine?

I enjoy painting, wood working, and - most of all – spending time with my wife and 2 kids. It’s great when they merge into one, like our most recent project to build a lemonade stand (unfortunately not yet standing).

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