Texas Children's Hospital Pioneers Use of MRI-guided Laser Surgery for Revolutionary New Epilepsy Treatment

HOUSTON, July 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Texas Children's Hospital is the first hospital in the world to use real-time MRI-guided thermal imaging and laser technology to destroy lesions in the brain that cause epilepsy and uncontrollable seizures.

According to hospital experts, this new surgical approach offers a safer and significantly less invasive alternative to craniotomy, currently the most commonly used cranial surgical treatment for epilepsy. For high-risk patients with deep brain lesions, this new technique can be particularly life-changing because the MRI-guided laser probe utilizes a much smaller pathway through the brain to reach a deep lesion. This reduces the risk of patient complications related to contact with surrounding brain tissue. In addition, the MRI-guided laser probe is inserted through a hole in the skull that is only 3.2 mm (about the diameter of a pen) versus the removal of a larger area of skull bone for a craniotomy. Because it is a less invasive procedure, patient recovery time is much shorter.

More than three million people in the U.S. are affected by epilepsy, including about 300,000 children under the age of 14. Uncontrollable seizures can affect a child's memory, concentration, motor skills, school performance and quality of life. Drug therapies control seizures in about 60 percent of those with epilepsy. Invasive craniotomy, nerve stimulation and special diets are treatment options for patients who do not respond to medication.

"Based on our experience, we believe the use of MRI-guided laser surgery will change the face of epilepsy treatment and provide a life-changing option for many epilepsy surgery candidates -- both children and adults," said Dr. Angus Wilfong, director of Texas Children's comprehensive epilepsy program and associate professor of pediatrics and neurology at Baylor College of Medicine.

source: PR Newswire


Cleveland Clinic Researchers Launch Long-Term Study of Brain Health in Pro Fighters

LAS VEGAS, July 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health has launched a landmark study with professional fighters that will help determine whether magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, along with other tests, can detect subtle changes in brain health that correlate with impaired thinking and functioning. The Center is working hand-in-hand with the Nevada Athletic Commission, Golden Boy Promotions, Top Rank Boxing and the UFC to spread the word about the importance of this research to the sport.

Researchers hope the information uncovered by this research will eventually result in better ways to prevent permanent brain injury in not only fighters, but also in others who may suffer from brain trauma. This information could also be used in the future to help develop better protective equipment across sports.

"It has been known for decades in the boxing community that recurrent blows to the head can result in permanent brain damage. Many notable fighters have developed striking neurological conditions at relatively young ages," said Charles Bernick, M.D., Associate Medical Director at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, and principal investigator on the study. "Our goal is to help the next generation of fighters by improving fighting safety. New technologies, such as advanced MRI scanning, may offer us the ability to determine who is at greatest risk to develop permanent brain injury and detect it at its earliest stages."

source: PR Newswire