Deep brain stimulation applied for first time in Belgium to epileptic patient
Friday, 22 May 2015
For the first time ever in Belgium, deep brain stimulation has been used to treat a patient suffering from severe seizures. The procedure to fit a neurostimulator which will send electrical impulses to the brain, took place at Ghent University Hospital. On Thursday the hospital said the operation went well. Over 100,000 Belgians suffer from epilepsy and drugs or surgery only work for a portion of this number. Those not responding to drugs or surgery may be considered for deep brain stimulation, said the hospital.
Electrodes are inserted into the brain and are then connected by a subcutaneous wire to a pacemaker in the patient’s body, usually under the collar bone or in the abdomen. The device works in a similar way to a pacemaker. The electrical impulses sent to the brain reach as far as its deeper layers, and may reduce the number of attacks a sufferer has. According to US trials, five years after treatment by deep brain stimulation, about half of the patients were having 50% fewer seizures than before treatment. The procedure is usually combined with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).
Deep brain stimulation has also been used to treat patients suffering from, among others, Parkinson’s disease. The procedure was only recognised in Belgium as effective in the treatment of epilepsy at the beginning of 2015. It is now on the list of reimbursed treatments.