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What is Cortical Dysplasia

One of the most challenging things about being a parent is watching your child struggle with a disease or illness. The feelings of helplessness and sadness can be overwhelming at times, and you want to be able to help them through their time of need. Cortical dysplasia is a brain malformation of the cortex that can result in pediatric epilepsy. Parenting a child with this condition can be scary. Watching your child through a seizure is almost unbearable.

If your child has cortical dysplasia, you likely try and remain knowledgeable about the disease and the various treatments. Keeping up-to-date about managing the symptoms of this disease while learning about pain management is critical to helping your child through this scary condition. 

Cortical dysplasia can be a daunting disease to face, especially as a parent to a young child with this diagnosis. You may feel worried, stress, anxiety, and fear. With help from your child’s doctor, you can rely on them to develop an effective treatment plan to reduce the symptoms of cortical dysplasia. 

If you are in search of relevant and accurate information on a wide variety of diseases and their treatments, Nually is your go-to resource. We strive to provide the public with access to timely and helpful information. We are a collective of knowledgeable professionals, and we work to provide our audience with informative and useful content. 

Cortical Dysplasia: Overview

Cortical dysplasia is the result of the malformation of the cortex of the brain. This malformation can lead to pediatric epilepsy. This condition develops in utero and is present at birth. Abnormal development of the cortex can occur in small, hidden areas of the cortex, or can take over large areas of the brain. Some cases of cortical dysplasia occur due to another more significant related genetic abnormality. 

Types of Cortical Dysplasia

There are various types of cortical dysplasia; all of them cause epilepsy. The most commonly diagnosed form of cortical dysplasia is focal cortical dysplasia or FCD. FCD can be further broken down into three categories.


  • Type I. This type is hard to locate on a scan of the brain. In many cases, seizures do not begin until reaching maturity. Most commonly Type I affects the temporal lobe.
  • Type II. This is a more serious type of focal cortical dysplasia and is typical in children. Two parts of the brain are involved, the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe.
  • Type III.  In this type of focal cortical dysplasia, either Type I or Type II are evident, plus there is damage in other areas of the brain. In many cases, brain damage at a young age can cause this.


    The most typical sign of cortical dysplasia is pediatric epilepsy. The epilepsy displays in the form of recurring seizures in infants and children. The type of seizure, as well as the extent of neurological development, are dependent on a variety of different factors.

    Another common symptom of cortical dysplasia is difficulty learning new things. Because this condition has such a drastic effect on the brain and how it develops, those diagnosed often struggle with learning new information, or how to complete new tasks.

    Cortical Dysplasia: Diagnosis

    Diagnosing cortical dysplasia can be challenging, as it can be hard to detect on a CT scan or MRI. After a child experiences seizures, your doctor will order a battery of tests to determine the cause. A neurological exam, MRI or CT scan, as well as electroencephalogram. A PET scan is sometimes the most effective imaging study for locating the abnormality in the brain.

    Cortical Dysplasia: Treatment

    Cortical dysplasia is a complex disease, which makes treating it a complicated matter. Your doctor will assess the location, extent, and specifics of your cortical dysplasia and create an individualized treatment plan for your needs. 


    Treating cortical dysplasia is a complex matter. The first treatment is typically anti-epileptic medication. These medications vary from patient to patient and depend on the specifics of the patient’s particular case. Medication for cortical dysplasia treats the seizures and helps prevent them. Often, the medications are effective in controlling the seizures and are the only treatment necessary. 

    Vagal Nerve Stimulator

    If surgery is not an option or is too dangerous, doctors may recommend a vagal nerve stimulator or VNS. While there are risks with a vagal nerve stimulator, including potential infection or not stopping the seizures, the procedure can prevent seizures from becoming worse and affecting your quality of life.


    If medications do not prove effective, surgery is an option for some instances of cortical dysplasia. If doctors are sure they know the epilepsy is only coming from one cortical dysplasia area, surgery to remove the malformation of the abnormal brain may be an option. Effectiveness of surgery is entirely dependent on various factors. Each patient is different, and cortical dysplasia is an extremely complex disease. Treatment is as individualized as the disease itself. 

    Final Thoughts

    Dealing with cortical dysplasia can be challenging as a parent. Watching your child struggle through seizures can be scary and upsetting. Fortunately, with a treatment plan from your doctor, you can manage the resulting epilepsy. With effective management and the right medication, seizures often stop. In some cases, surgery can address the issue if the medication does not work. 

    Understanding cortical dysplasia and epilepsy will help you manage symptoms and address the condition. Working with your child’s doctor to help manage cortical dysplasia is essential to keeping your child healthy and happy.

    Having access to relevant and accurate information regarding a wide variety of health-related topics helps you make informed decisions. Keeping up-to-date with the latest topics and knowledge is essential to your health.