Roughly 30 patients with epilepsy in the United States have undergone laser brain surgery to stop their seizures, and doctors claim the results so far have been promising.
The most recent epileptic to have the procedure was 27-year-old Noreli Viedma-Jimenez, who had the special surgery in February at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., according to The Star-Ledger of Newark. Laser surgery has been used for several years now on brain tumors, but its use for epilepsy is relatively new.
Roughly two-thirds of those with epilepsy, which is caused by abnormal electric currents in the brain, can be treated with medications, successfully stopping their seizures, The Ledger reported. But patients such as Viedma-Jimenez aren’t helped by drugs.
So she was a perfect candidate for so-called “laser ablation.” In that procedure, a fiber-optic line is sent through a hole in the skull and is then guided through healthy brain tissue and blood vessels to the lesion believed to cause seizures, according to The Ledger. The laser destroys this “bad” brain tissue, which in Viedma-Jimenez’s case was on the right side of her hippocampus. The procedure doe this without damaging healthy brain cells.
Viedma-Jimenez did have a few seizures right after her surgery, but has not had another one in a month, The Ledger reported. Doctors believe the initial seizures may have been caused by swelling from her surgery.
The first epilepsy patient to have the laser surgery at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital hasn’t had a seizure in three months, according to The Ledger. That’s offering more than a ray of hope to Viedma-Jimenez.