Brain stim­u­la­tion aids some epilepsy

The Tribune (SLO) - - Sports | Classifieds -

Q: How does deep brain stim­u­la­tion for epilepsy work? Who’s a good can­di­date for this treat­ment? Is it ef­fec­tive?

A: Deep brain stim­u­la­tion is a tech­nique that uses a wire placed per­ma­nently in the brain to send elec­tri­cal pulses to the brain. It has been ap­proved by the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion to treat epilepsy that hasn’t re­sponded to other forms of ther­apy. In most peo­ple, deep brain stim­u­la­tion doesn’t com­pletely elim­i­nate seizures caused by epilepsy, but it can sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce seizures.

Epilepsy is a cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem dis­or­der. In a per­son with epilepsy, nerve cell ac­tiv­ity in the brain be­comes ab­nor­mal, caus­ing seizures and some­times loss of con­scious­ness. The symp­toms of a seizure can vary widely from one per­son to an­other. For ex­am­ple, some peo­ple with epilepsy stare blankly for a few sec­onds dur­ing a seizure or ap­pear con­fused. Oth­ers may lose con­scious­ness and have repet­i­tive jerk­ing of their arms and legs.

Even mild epilepsy re­quires treat­ment be­cause seizures can be dan­ger­ous dur­ing ac­tiv­i­ties such as driv­ing. Med­i­ca­tion to re­duce or elim­i­nate seizures usu­ally is the first step in treat­ment. For about two-thirds of peo­ple with epilepsy, seizures are ef­fec­tively con­trolled with the first or sec­ond anti-seizure drug they try.

When med­i­ca­tion doesn’t pro­vide ad­e­quate seizure con­trol, surgery may be an op­tion. Epilepsy surgery typ­i­cally in­volves re­mov­ing the area of the brain that’s caus­ing seizures. That ap­proach only works, how­ever, when the place within the brain that’s trig­ger­ing the seizures can be iden­ti­fied clearly. In some peo­ple, that’s not pos­si­ble. It’s those in­di­vid­u­als who are most likely to ben­e­fit from deep brain stim­u­la­tion.

But the goal typ­i­cally is not re­lief of all seizures — it’s used to re­duce the number of seizures. The same clin­i­cal trial showed that be­tween 50 and 60 per­cent of pa­tients had a de­crease in their seizures in re­sponse to deep brain stim­u­la­tion. The re­search also showed that within the group who did re­spond, the number of seizures con­tin­ued to de­crease.

Although deep brain stim­u­la­tion is a ma­jor sur­gi­cal procedure, the risks in­volved are fairly low, com­pared to other types of brain surgery. And if deep brain stim­u­la­tion is found to be in­ef­fec­tive for a pa­tient, it’s re­versible. The elec­trodes and gen­er­a­tor can be re­moved with­out in­jur­ing the brain. That makes it an at­trac­tive op­tion to con­sider for peo­ple with epilepsy who haven’t had suc­cess with other treat­ment and in whom the lo­ca­tion within the brain where the seizures arise can­not be pin­pointed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.