In some cases, traditional methods of controlling seizures in people with epilepsy do not work. Sometimes, anti-seizure medications and surgery do not have the desired effectiveness, or they might not be of any help at all. Two more common surgical treatments are responsive nerve stimulation and vagal nerve stimulation. However, those treatments will not always stop seizures entirely.
Based on recent findings from a study by the Mayo Clinic, a new seizure treatment option might be on the horizon. In this study, patients were treated with continuous electrical neurostimulation. Its results are promising.
Positive Results from the Study
The study included 13 patients who were resistant to antiepileptic drugs and who were unable to receive resective surgery, a procedure that removes the part of the brain that causes the seizures. In this study, the patients were treated by doctors who determined where in their brain that their seizures were originating from. A group of temporary electrical contacts were applied in the affected part of the brain to record any seizures and interictal epileptiform discharges, and to pinpoint the problematic area.
The doctors applied low levels of continuous electrical neurostimulation, so that the patients could not feel or notice the stimulation, and monitored each patient’s brain activity. When a patient appeared to be tolerating the neurostimulation and if the stimulation provided benefits, the doctors would replace the temporary contacts with a more permanent set.
The results of the study were quite encouraging. Out of the 13 patients, 10 of them reported a decrease in the severity of their epilepsy as well as a greater satisfaction with life. Most of the patients found that they had a 50% reduction in seizures, while 44% reported that they no longer suffered from disabling seizures.
One of the advantages of this treatment is that risks are very minimal. While it is possible to get an infection, or run the risk of bleeding, these are not common. Some patients might feel the stimulation, indicating that the level of electrical impulses needs to be adjusted. Other than that, there are fewer risks with this treatment than what would normally be associated with surgery or the side effects of medication. Researchers believe that neurostimulation could help many patients. Further studies need to occur in the field, and they are currently in the process of determining whether the next step should be a clinical trial.
RSC Diagnostic Services delivers in-home ambulatory long-term video EEG. RSC empowers physicians by increasing the diagnostic yield to evaluate, diagnose and treat a variety of neurological symptoms. We are committed to improving patient outcomes and enhancing caregiving.