AUSTIN, Texas – (March 31, 2015) – A 43-year-old woman is the first Central Texan to have inserted into the brain a new type of electrical stimulator to control seizures in patients with difficult-to-treat epilepsy.
The epilepsy team at the Ascension Seton Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, a member of the Ascension Seton, implanted a flash drive-size Responsive Neurostimulation System (RNS) in the patient on March 18. RNS is used for patients who no longer respond to medications and suffer from seizures so severe they risk having them in public, without warning. Ascension Seton is a member of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health care system.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, epilepsy is a common neurological condition where a person suffers from recurrent seizures caused by abnormal electrical function in the brain. It afflicts approximately 3 million Americans.
RNS is for patients who are not candidates for epilepsy surgery because the location of their seizure onset is in a sensitive part of the brain that cannot be surgically removed. It is also only for patients whose seizure onset can be traced to just one or two locations in the brain.
“This device is similar to using a defibrillator to control abnormal heart rhythms,” Dr. Pradeep Modur, medical director of the Ascension Seton Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, said. “RNS involves implantation of a device in the brain that senses seizures and stops them by generating an electrical current. The system is FDA (U.S. Federal Drug Administration) approved and, while it’s not a cure for epilepsy, we are extremely excited to offer this treatment option for achieving better seizure control.”
The neurostimulator device is battery powered and microprocessor-controlled. Dr. Robert Buchanan, neurosurgeon with the Ascension Seton Brain & Spine Institute, conducted the procedure on the first patient by surgically implanting the device within the skull and beneath the scalp. The neurostimulator connects to one or two leads that are placed near the area of the brain where seizures take place.
Ascension Seton Brain & Spine Institute’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Program and the Dell Children’s Medical Center‘s Comprehensive Epilepsy Program are the only Level 4 Epilepsy Centers in Central Texas providing comprehensive care for adults and children with epilepsy. Designation as a Level 4 Epilepsy Center is based upon guidelines recommended by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers and is the highest level achievable.