Brain implant may help predict epilepsy seizures

A device implanted in the brain may help to predict seizures in epilepsy patients who don't respond to drugs, Med Page Today reported.

The study, published in Lancet Neurology, tested the seizure-advisory device in 15 patients. The system, developed by Neurovista, which also funded the study, used electrodes implanted between the skull and brain to detect any abnormal electrical activity that might be indicative of a seizure.

The electrodes in the brain were connected to a second device, implanted in the chest. Data was transmitted wirelessly to a handheld device, which calculated the probability of a seizure, Med Page Today said. Patients could then monitor seizure risk by looking at a series of lights on the handheld device, which indicate high risk (a red light), moderate risk (white light) or low risk (blue light).

Study participants were between ages 20 to 62 and experienced between two and 12 seizures per month.

Initially, the system was able to correctly predict seizures with a "high warning" sensitivity of greater than 65 percent, and worked to a level better than chance, in 11 of the 15 adults.

In eight of the 11 patients who went on to have the device activated, sensitivity ranged from 56 percent to 100 percent over the next four months.

While some patients experienced adverse events related to the device, researchers said  the procedure-related complication rate was similar to that of other intracranial procedures such as implantable deep-brain stimulators for Parkinson's disease, according to Med Page Today.

"Knowing when a seizure might happen could dramatically improve the quality of life of people with epilepsy by giving them back some independence in their lives. A lot of patients with epilepsy will tell you it's not the seizures themselves, but the fact they don't know when they will happen, that is the worst part of their condition," study author Mark Cook, of St. Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia said.

While more research needs to be done, study authors said they hoped their work would serve as a basis for more studies into new epilepsy treatments.

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