A Taiwanese hospital has successfully treated a patient with a potentially fatal seizure disorder using neuromodulation surgery, the first ever successful example of anterior thalamic nucleus stimulation being used to treat patients suffering from epilepsy anywhere in the world, the hospital said Tuesday.
The 17-year-old woman, surnamed Lin, has had seizures since the age of 12. However, her situation deteriorated early this year with an increase in the frequency of the seizures, according to Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.
The seizures left her expressionless and unresponsive almost all day, forcing her to quit school.
At the time, Lin involuntarily moved her head up and down from the moment she woke up in the morning and often had generalized seizures, her father recalled at a press conference.
Generalized seizures are produced by electrical impulses from the entire brain and affect the whole body.
The Chang Gung medical team later determined that Lin's symptoms were being caused by abnormal electrical discharges in her brain that occurred almost every minute.
Patients suffering a serious seizure disorder like Lin can also develop severe complications such as multiple organ failure or permanent nerve damage and 10-30 percent of such patients die within 30 days, said Lee Ching-yi (???), a neurosurgeon at Chang Gung hospital.
Commenting on Lin's case, Lee said that when the condition was at its worst the patient had a seizure every one to two minutes and medication failed to help.
Since the surgery, Lin has been able to speak, the doctor said, adding that this was the first case in the world to successfully treat an epilepsy patient with anterior thalamic nucleus stimulation.
Lee said that the Chang Gung team had submitted a paper on the case to an international medical journal.
In 2011, there was a similar case in the United Kingdom, Lee noted. That surgery helped relieve the seizures but the patient fell into a coma after the operation, she said.
The prevalence of epilepsy in Taiwan is estimated at 0.6 percent of the population, or 140,000, the hospital said. Most sufferers are able to relieve their condition through medication.
However, about 30 percent of patients show little or no improvement from medication, it added.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel