DBS for drug-resistant epilepsy

Space considerations in print forced us to slim down the feature on deep brain stimulation for drug resistant epilepsy, which appears in the Spring 2015 issue of Emory Medicine. While I encourage you to please read our story profiling playwright Paula Moreland, here are some take-away points:

*Surgery is a viable option for many patients with drug-resistant epilepsy, but not all of them, because the regions of the brain where the seizures start can have important functions. (Look for an upcoming post describing a patient I met for whom the surgical option was helpful.)

*Deep brain stimulation can reduce seizure frequency and improve quality of life for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy.

*In the large clinical trials on deep brain stimulation for epilepsy that have been run so far (SANTE and RNS), most participants do not see their seizures eliminated. Ms. Moreland is an exception. 

*In those trials, despite differences in how electrical current is applied and what part of the brain is targeted, a common pattern emerged: gradual reduction of seizure frequency over several months. Helpful review on the topic from Emory neurosurgeon Robert Gross + colleagues.

*Although electrical stimulation for epilepsy is an old idea (some credit for bringing it forward goes to Irving Cooper), neuroscientists are still figuring out how it works.

*New technologies offer opportunities to learn more and make a promising procedure better.

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Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Neuro Leave a comment

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Quinn Eastman

Science Writer, Research Communications qeastma@emory.edu 404-727-7829 Office

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