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News Dell Children's Medical Center First in Region to Perform Minimally Invasive Laser Epilepsy Surgery Emily Schmitz

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AUSTIN, Texas - (August 13, 2013) - Epilepsy specialists at Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas announced today that they are the first in Central Texas to successfully perform a minimally invasive laser epilepsy surgery on a 16-year-old boy from Port Aransas.

The patient has suffered from debilitating seizures caused by epilepsy for more than eight years. After trying numerous anti-seizure medications, his family turned to the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Dell Children's. Epileptologist and Director Dr. Dave Clarke informed the family about a newer, noninvasive epilepsy treatment using a laser.

"The laser is one of the newer innovations at our epilepsy program which allows us to provide state-of-the-art treatment to our patients," said Clarke "Epilepsy can be a debilitating condition to treat, but newer treatments like the laser are providing hope to those who have run out of options."

Epilepsy specialists first identified the area of the brain where the patient's seizures originated by using sophisticated mapping technology.

Using that information, neurosurgeon Dr. Mark Lee used a laser probe at the surgical site using stereotactic, 3D-computer guidance in the operating room. The patient was then moved to the MRI scanner where the laser removed the targeted brain tissue using heat under continuous MRI monitoring. This allowed a very precise area of the brain to be treated without damaging other surrounding areas.

You can view animation illustrating how the new laser works.

"This newer technology will allow us to provide treatment for those epilepsy patients where traditional surgery is too risky. Additionally, our standard approach using a craniotomy requires a much more invasive approach with a minimum of seven days in the hospital," said Dr. Lee. "Most patients do extremely well and are able to go home after just one day after this procedure."

To date, three patients have undergone the new treatment at Dell Children's. The first patient was a 22-year-old Austin woman who has not experienced a seizure since her procedure in June.

Dell Children's and Seton Brain & Spine Institute are the only places in Central Texas with a Level 4 Epilepsy Center designation. Level 4 signifies an advanced level of epilepsy care for children and adults and provides complete epilepsy evaluations, surgical procedures and complex operations.

Visit the Dell Children's Comprehensive Epilepsy Program webpage or the Epilepsy Laser Surgery webpage for more information.

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