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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Minimally invasive procedure a first in epilepsy treatment

Health Industry Hub | April 19, 2024 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: An Australian-first procedure utilising MRI-guided, minimally invasive surgery has been introduced for the treatment of epilepsy cases that have not responded optimally to medicines.

Before the surgery, 31-year-old father Dane Brockmann experienced monthly episodes of epilepsy, losing consciousness for 10 to 20 seconds.

“What’s truly transformational about this technique is it’s all done without a significant skin incision,” said Dr Mark Dexter, Head of Neurosurgery at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital.

The minimally invasive approach reaches the brain through a small hole in the head, cut at the width of a pencil. Then an MRI guides a thin laser fibre to the affected area of the brain, burning off a section of the affected tissue.

Brockmann said the laser option saved him from having a bigger piece of his brain “cut out” through temporal lobectomy. He added “The medication was doing as well as it could, it was stopping large seizures, but I’d still have a seizure at least once a month.”

Dr Dexter attributed the success of the new procedure, made feasible by a $500,000 Philips MRI machine, to a generous donation from the construction company DeiCorp.

“Traditional brain surgery for epilepsy patients involves invasive surgery with a long recovery time and increased risks,” he said. “This procedure is much less intrusive and the patient can be discharged in less than a day.”

“I would have been in hospital for recovering for at least another week and then I would have to recover at home without being able to do normal things for a few months, plus the risk of memory loss or my ability to walk properly. Following the laser MRI procedure, I’m feeling good and back to work, back to doing normal things,” Brockmann said.

250,000 Australians suffer from epilepsy, with specialists performing between 40 and 80 surgeries a year. Experts say the new approach could be used to treat half of those cases.

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park hailed the surgical innovation as an “incredible breakthrough”.

“I’m pleased to see another incredible breakthrough come out of the Westmead Health Precinct,” he said. “It is innovative treatments like this one being used in NSW, which are resulting in vastly improved health outcomes for people like Dane.”

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