For Coronavirus (COVID-19) information, please visit coronavirus.wvu.edu.

WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute first in the state to use deep brain stimulation to treat epilepsy

WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute first in the state to use deep brain stimulation to treat epilepsy

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute and WVU Medicine announced today (March 10) that they have treated the state’s first two patients with deep brain stimulation (DBS) for medically refractory, or drug-resistant, epilepsy.

DBS is a minimally-invasive surgical therapy that uses an implanted medical device, similar to a cardiac pacemaker, to deliver electrical stimulation to precisely targeted areas of the brain as adjunctive treatment for several neurological disorders.

During the procedure, thin stimulation electrodes are placed into deep regions of the brain that control various functions. A pacemaker implanted in the chest sends electrical impulses through the electrodes, which regularizes abnormal brain activity and alleviates symptoms.

DBS therapy for epilepsy delivers controlled electrical pulses to a target in the brain called the anterior nucleus of the thalamus (ANT), which is a part of the brain involved in seizures.

"This device gives patients with incurable epilepsy hope that their seizures can be controlled and can allow them to live their lives to their fullest potential," Nicholas Brandmeir, M.D., WVU Medicine neurosurgeon, said.

The team successfully implanted a Medtronic DBS device in two patients at WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in February. According to Dr. Brandmeir, the patients are doing well.

"Both patients were discharged to their homes after a routine night in the hospital and are doing well,” Brandmeir said. “They are both looking forward to a future with fewer and less severe seizures.”

This is the latest surgical technique offered at the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute that allows neurologists and neurosurgeons to improve the lives of its patients with drug resistant epilepsy.

According to the American Epilepsy Society, as many as three million Americans have epilepsy. Antiepileptic drug (AED) medication is the primary treatment to control seizures; however, approximately one third of individuals with epilepsy have seizures that do not successfully respond to AEDs. 

The Medtronic DBS System for Epilepsy has demonstrated safety and effectiveness in patients who averaged six or more seizures per month over the three most recent months with no more than 30 days between seizures and has not been evaluated in patients with less frequent seizures.

In addition to medically refractory epilepsy, DBS therapy is currently approved in many locations around the world, including the United States and Europe, for the treatment of the disabling symptoms of essential tremor and Parkinson's disease.

About the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

We are improving lives by pioneering advances in brain health. With the latest technologies, an ecosystem of partners, and a truly integrated approach, we are making tangible progress in our goal to combat public health challenges ranging from addiction to Alzheimer’s, benefiting people in West Virginia, neighboring states, and beyond.