An Israeli medical team recently implanted electrodes deep into a patient’s brain to stimulate neurons and halt severe epileptic attacks. The groundbreaking, first-ever surgery was undertaken by Prof. Itzhak Fried the head of the functional neurosurgery unit at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.Fried said he used the Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) system made by the Medtronic company.
The technique stimulates neurons in the brain in order to stop the epilepsy attacks from occurring in the first place. Electrodes are inserted through a small opening in the skull and implanted on two sides of the brain. Then, electrical activity from the cells in a specific nucleus is measured.
According to The Jerusalem Post, the treatment is available abroad but has not been attempted on epileptic patients at other medical centers.
“It is a new treatment for patients who suffer from severe epilepsy that does not respond to medications,” Prof. Fried said while announcing the use of the system.
Epilepsy affects some 50 million people worldwide. About 60,000 Israelis suffer from the brain disorder that causes repeated seizures and nearly a third of them do not respond well to medications and could benefit from the new treatment.
The DBS system for Parkinson’s and dystonia patients was pioneered in Israel at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem.
According to the Post, some 100,000 such patients have undergone DBS implantation around the world, including about 300 at Hadassah. Hadassah has also performed DBS on patients with intractable depression and Tourette’s syndrome.