Press Release

Brain Implant Offers Hope for People with Epilepsy at Stanford Hospital & Clinics


System detects and treats epileptic seizures

PALO ALTO, CA (June 10, 2014) — Physicians at Stanford Hospital & Clinics now offer an implantable therapeutic device, designed to detect and treat seizures, for certain patients with epilepsy. The new treatment is an option for adults with intractable partial onset seizures, which are localized in one or two parts of the brain and that have not been controlled with two or more antiepileptic drugs. The device is the world's only responsive neurostimulation system (RNS System) and received FDA clearance on November 14, 2013. Stanford physicians have been studying the technology since 2004, and in June 2014, will implant their first device since approval.

The device continuously monitors brain electrical activity, senses abnormal electrical activity and responds by delivering unnoticeable pulses of electrical stimulation to normalize that activity before an individual experiences seizures.

"Essentially, a person could be treated for an imminent seizure without even recognizing it," said Robert Fisher, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences and director of the comprehensive epilepsy program at Stanford. "While this isn't a cure for epilepsy, this technology reduces the number of seizures for some patients. This can improve quality of life for patients who previously did not have other satisfactory treatment options."

Of the approximately 65 million people worldwide who have epilepsy, 30-40 percent experience uncontrolled seizures. However, not all seizures are suitable for treatment by this device, since the location of the seizures in the brain must be known for it to be applicable.

The battery-powered and microprocessor-controlled device is placed within the skull and beneath the scalp. It is connected to one or two leads that are placed within the brain or rest on the brain's surface in the area of the seizure focus. The procedure doesn't involve any removal of brain tissue.

Physicians personalize therapy for each patient by non-invasively programming the detection and stimulation settings of the device. At home, patients can monitor and transmit recordings of their brain electrical activity and other information. The patient's physician can review and analyze this information over the internet between the patient's office appointments.

Stanford Hospital & Clinics' epilepsy team consists of epileptologists, epilepsy surgeons, neuroradiologists, neuropsychologists, neuropsychiatrists and nurses who provide care for more than 4,000 patients annually. Designated by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers as a Level 4 center, its highest distinction, the Stanford Comprehensive Epilepsy Program is ranked among the top comprehensive centers in the nation.

The RNS System is manufactured by NeuroPace, Inc. Martha Morrell, MD, clinical professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford, has worked on the development and testing of the device since 1998 but in compliance with Stanford's conflict of interest policy will not prescribe the device. RNS System implant procedures are covered by most insurance companies. To learn more about epilepsy treatment options available at Stanford Hospital & Clinics and if this device may be right for you, please contact Mimi Callanan, RN, at 650-725-6648, option number four.

About Stanford Health Care

Stanford Health Care (SHC) seeks to heal humanity through science and compassion one patient at a time, through its commitment to care, educate, and discover.  Across its health system of inpatient care, outpatient health centers, medical groups, health plan offerings, care navigation and virtual care services, Stanford Health Care provides patients with the very best in health and care through its unique leading edge and coordinated care approach.

Stanford Health Care is widely recognized for delivering the highest levels of care and compassion, while also discovering breakthroughs for treating cancer, heart disease, brain disorders, primary care issues, and many other conditions.  Stanford Health Care and its Stanford Hospital, along with Stanford Children’s Health and the Stanford University School of Medicine, are committed to delivering Stanford Medicine excellence to each and every patient and family served.

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