New epilepsy treatment helps keep seizures at bay
OhioHealth offers new laser treatment for epilepsy
Jennifer Casto has had epilepsy for decades.
“I was first diagnosed with epilepsy in my twenties. I had a seizure out of nowhere,” said Casto.
Jennifer's neurologist, Dr. Emily Klatte, says epilepsy is a neurologic condition characterized by usually more than one unprovoked seizure. The bursts of electrical activity affect groups of neurons that trigger symptoms.
“It can be anything from a sensation of numbness, difficulty speaking, loss of awareness, full body convulsions”, said Dr. Klatte.
As Jennifer got older, the seizures struck more often, lasted longer and worsened. Jennifer says she would lose a sense of time and space, which was especially hard because Jennifer worked as a pastor with an inner city church.
Medicine that once worked, no longer did.
“Once a patient fails two seizure medications, the chance of medicine alone rendering them seizure-free is only about 5 to 10 percent”, said Dr. Klatte.
Jennifer came to the OhioHealth Epilepsy Center so doctors could figure out where in the brain her seizures began.
Treatment often means opening the skull for brain surgery. Since Jennifer’s epilepsy began in the temporal lobe behind her left ear, doctors thought a new, less invasive treatment, called Visualase, might work.
OhioHealth Neurosurgeon, Dr. Girish Hiremath, drilled a tiny hole in Jennifer’s skull. He then used a brain scan to guide a catheter to the part of Jennifer’s brain where the seizures were starting. Then, he applied heat to destroy the problem tissue.
“Using an MRI machine, that allows us to monitor the spread of that heat. We’re able to restrict the heat spread in to the part of the brain where we want, and keep it away from the critical structures,” explained Dr. Hiremath. “If you look at surgical treatment for epilepsy over the course of the next 10 years, I would say that laser ablation is probably going to be more or less the standard of care.”
Jennifer went home the next day and has had no seizures in more than four months.