Newswise — JULY 29, 2021, HACKENSACK, N.J. – Pediatric neurosurgeon Arno Fried, M.D. has implanted the first responsive neurostimulation (RNS) device in a patient to treat drug-resistant focal epilepsy. The procedure was performed at Hackensack Meridian Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This abnormal electrical activity results in recurrent seizures that can range in severity and frequency. The patient, who is 16 years old, and had been treated for epilepsy for two years by Eric Segal, M.D., co-chief of Epileptology, did not see significant improvement in seizures after trying multiple anti-seizure medications.
Based on seizure and treatment history, the patient was a candidate for implantation of the NeuroPace RNS® System. The system is designed to treat focal seizures, which start in one or two specific parts of the brain.
“Although research is ongoing, RNS has the potential to help young patients with focal seizures fully participate in everyday activities, such as school and sports, while reducing seizure-related stress for children and parents,” said Dr. Fried.
“Clinical trials of the RNS System in adults have shown about 70-percent median reduction in seizures and improvements in quality of life — including less worry about future seizures, improved mental and physical health, and improvements in their ability to think and remember,” said Dr.Segal.
Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital neurosurgeons and epileptologists first identified the area of the brain that was causing the patient’s seizures using a procedure called invasive stereoelectroencephalography (sEEG) where electrodes were placed in the brain to monitor the brain’s electrical activity for abnormalities. Neurosurgeons then implanted leads that deliver short pulses of electrical stimulation at the site in the brain where the seizures were originating and connected the leads to the neurostimulator device placed under the patient’s scalp.
The system continuously monitors brain activity and is programmed to recognize the patient’s unique seizure patterns. If the system detects abnormal brain activity, it will automatically respond with short pulses of electrical stimulation to disrupt abnormal activity and prevent seizures before they start. Additionally, the system records and reports brain activity data to help physicians monitor patient progress, fine-tune the RNS device and deliver personalized care.
“Our pediatric neurosurgeons and epileptologists are providing patients with access to the latest technology and treatment options,’’ said Judy Aschner, M.D., physician-in-chief for Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health. “RNS is a breakthrough technology that provides another treatment option for patients with seizures who don’t respond to medication.”
“The ability to offer RNS technology that detects abnormal brain activity and stops seizures before they start has life-changing potential for people with epilepsy,” said Mark Sparta, FACHE, president and chief hospital executive, Hackensack University Medical Center and executive vice president, Population Health, Hackensack Meridian Health. “We are proud to offer our youngest patients and their families this hopeful treatment.
Approximately 1 out of 26 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with epilepsy in their lifetime, and more than 1 million of those diagnosed will still experience seizures despite taking anti-seizure medication.
About Hackensack Meridian Children’s HealthHackensack Meridian Children’s Health provides the most comprehensive and highest level of quality care to young patients in the state of New Jersey. The children’s network is comprised of two children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune – and a large network of pediatric subspecialists and pediatricians. Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital was ranked #1 in New Jersey in the U.S. News & World Report 2021-22 Best Children’s Hospital Report. Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health hospitals are the only two in New Jersey to be ranked among the top 50 in the nation for pediatric cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Visit www.hackensackmerdianhealth.org/kids for more information about Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health.