Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento
Brandon - Back To Being a Kid Again
Like any typical 9-year-old boy, Brandon enjoys riding his bike and swimming. But Brandon’s medical history is anything but typical. At 2 years old, he started having seizures and was diagnosed with a brain tumor in his frontal lobe. He underwent a frontal craniotomy and a year and a half of chemotherapy. While this removed his cancer, he was left with ongoing clinical and subclinical seizure activity and a language and developmental delay.
Brandon began seeing Michael G. Chez, M.D., medical director of Pediatric Neurology, in 2008 at Sutter Neuroscience Institute. Dr. Chez worked with Brandon and his parents on medications to help manage his behaviors and seizure activity. But side effects led them to taper off medications. In 2011, his seizures got progressively worse to the point where he was having grand mal seizures several times a week.
“We had to keep a close eye on Brandon 24 hours a day,” said Guy, Brandon’s father. “We were afraid to let him swim or ride his bike in case he had a seizure while doing so and got hurt, and the worst thing about it was he couldn’t understand why he wasn't allowed to do what his friends were doing.”
Dr. Chez suggested Brandon would be an ideal candidate for a new innovative surgery to help reduce or eliminate his seizures. The minimally invasive technology, called Visualase laser ablation surgery, destroys problematic brain tissue in seconds at temperatures near 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
“We hadn’t heard of this surgery before and were apprehensive of having Brandon undergo another brain surgery,” said Guy. “But when Dr. Chez explained the procedure and how minimally invasive it would be, we did some research and then decided to go for it.”
Brandon had a video and ambulatory EEG localization, functional MRI and magnetoencephalography (MEG) scan done so that the surgical team could pinpoint the exact source of the seizures in his brain utilizing non-invasive stereotactic computer analysis to chart surgical guided laser ablation. His surgery was performed at Sutter Children’s Center by a specially trained team, including Dr. Chez, pediatric neurosurgeon Samuel F. Ciricillo, M.D., neuroradiologist Azad Ghassemi, M.D., and a pediatric anesthesiologist.
“My wife and I were relieved that the whole experience was comparatively quick and easy, more like a minor outpatient procedure than brain surgery,” said Guy. “He was out of the hospital the very next day and the following week he even participated in his school dance production.
“After the surgery the seizures stopped, like flipping a light switch, they were gone. He hasn’t had any seizures since and we've continued to cut way back on his anti-seizure medication. Hopefully he'll be completely off all medication in a few weeks. Now he is able to swim and ride his bike again and do what any normal kid is supposed to do.”
Sutter is only one of a handful of hospitals in the nation offering the Visualase laser ablation surgery for epilepsy, and the only one in Northern California.
“The unique aspect of laser ablation is it offers a less invasive method to destroy epileptic tissue in the brain that would otherwise require more invasive craniotomy, prolonged hospitalization and often repeat surgeries,” said Dr. Chez. This technique offers rapid treatment, and patients are walking and eating within hours and go home usually the day after surgery. For many patients not considering this option, we hope they may rethink whether epilepsy surgery may be an option when more than two medications have failed.”
Learn more about our Pediatric Epilepsy Program.
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