The Phil Smith Neuroscience Institute at Holy Cross Health is accredited by the NAEC as a level 3 epilepsy center.  Level 3 epilepsy centers have the professional expertise and facilities to provide the highest level medical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy.

NAEC logo

Our Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) offers state-of-the-art 24/7 evaluations and monitoring in addition to chronic epilepsy management. Level 3 epilepsy centers have the expertise and facilities to offer the highest level medical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy. Located on the 5th floor of Holy Cross Health in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we offer ambulatory and in-patient unit monitoring to assess refractory epilepsy cases and surgical candidates.

We accept any seizing patient, modify his or her medicines and vitals, record them with audio and video, and then come back with a comprehensive diagnosis and collaborate with neuro-imaging, including EMGs, to assist in the diagnosis.

Our EMU houses state-of-the-art digital equipment to monitor and assist with the diagnosis of complicated seizure cases.

Holy Cross Health and South Florida epilepsy expert Eduardo Locatelli, MD, MPH, opened a four-bed epilepsy monitoring unit in January 2008, which houses the region´s most sophisticated diagnostic technology for epilepsy. Here, our board certified neurologists and expert staff monitor and assist with the diagnosis of complicated seizure cases, while patients stay in comfortable private rooms in a medically supervised environment.

Diagnostic Services

Epilepsy, the most common chronic neurological disorder that can be cured for some people, is a condition that causes the brain to produce sudden bursts of electrical energy that disrupt other brain functions. These bursts may affect a person´s consciousness, bodily movements or sensations for one to three minutes and are referred to as seizures or episodes. 


Image of man receiving epilepsy diagnosis

In the epilepsy monitoring unit, a patient is connected to an electroencephalograph (EEG) machine via dozens of tiny wires that are taped to the head. Here, our neurologists record continuous brain wave activity with simultaneous video recording. Brain waves during or between seizures may show special patterns, which help the doctor decide whether or not someone has epilepsy. Sometimes, a seizure can be induced if it is known what type of stimulus causes it, for example, music or loud noises. 

Treatments Available

Although there is currently no cure for epilepsy, the condition may be treated with medications, special diets, brain surgery, or an implanted device programmed to control seizures. Upon completion of the diagnostic process in the epilepsy monitoring unit, our neurologists can ascertain the presence of epilepsy 95 percent of the time. Once the correct diagnosis is made, the physician will determine the appropriate intervention. About 25 percent of those evaluated in the unit are potential candidates for surgery, which can be successful 65 to 90 percent of the time.

Medication therapy is by far the most common and is usually the first treatment prescribed. When antiepileptic or anticonvulsant drugs are ineffective or cause intolerable side effects, surgery may be an option. Brain surgery to treat epilepsy involves removal of seizure-producing areas of the brain. However, depending on where the seizure originates in the brain and other factors, not all people with uncontrolled epilepsy are good candidates for surgery.

Additionally, many people do not desire epilepsy surgery due to the risk of neurological morbidity (loss of memory, language or other functions). Another therapy involves sending regular small pulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve, a large nerve in the neck, with an implanted device. This treatment is referred to as vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted premarket approval for the NeuroPace® RNS® System, a treatment for adults with partial onset seizures that have not been controlled with two or more antiepileptic drugs. The RNS System is a novel, implantable therapeutic device that delivers responsive neurostimulation, an advanced technology designed to continuously monitor brain electrical activity, detect abnormal electrical activity, and respond by delivering imperceptible levels of electrical stimulation to normalize that activity before an individual experiences seizures. The RNS System is the first closed-loop responsive brain stimulation system.

Our Team

Along with Neurologists Jennifer Carrasquillo, MD, and Carolina Valdes, MD, our team of technicians and office staff are specifically trained to work with patients who suffer from epilepsy and disorders that cause seizures. The combination of our leading-edge technology, clinical experts, 24/7 access to services, our team´s passion for science and compassion for the patient´s well-being makes the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Holy Cross Hospital the epilepsy center of choice in Broward County.


How common is epilepsy? 
Epilepsy is the third most common neurological disorder in the United States. Approximately 65 million people worldwide have epilepsy, including nearly 3 million Americans. Furthermore, an estimated 200,000 new cases of epilepsy are diagnosed every year. There are as many people with epilepsy as with autism spectrum disorders, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis combined.

If I have a seizure do I have epilepsy? 
Between 100,000 and 120,000 South Floridians, or 1.8 percent of the population, experience seizures annually. This is double the national average. Forty to sixty percent of people with persistent seizures or spells do not have epilepsy.

What is epilepsy? 
Epilepsy is a condition that causes the brain to produce sudden bursts of electrical energy that disrupt other brain functions. These bursts may affect a person´s consciousness, bodily movements, or sensations for one to three minutes.

What are symptoms of an epileptic seizure? 
There may be more than 200 mild to severe symptoms that indicate an epileptic seizure, including brief panic attacks, a temporary lapse of memory or numbness, or language disturbance.

How do I determine if I have epilepsy? 
The first step is to call us for a consultation. 


To schedule a consultation or refer a patient:

P: 954-414-9750 
Phil Smith Neuroscience Institute 
Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, 5th Floor 
4725 North Federal Highway 
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33308