Laser brain surgery curing kids with epilepsy

July 19, 2011 4:51:09 PM PDT
There is a new surgery that can "cure" epilepsy, and it's much safer than traditional brain surgery. It uses a laser instead of a knife. No stitches, and it's being pioneered here at Texas Children's Hospital.

Life was a struggle every day for Keagan Dysart because he never knows when a seizure will hit.

"Three an hour," he said.

And he had the seizures every day. He tried a dozen drugs. None helped.

"His seizures were getting worse and developing into more severe seizures," said his mother, Robin Dysart.

Seizures were keeping him from concentrating and remembering. He couldn't be alone; once while waiting for his school bus, he had a seizure and ended up lying in the street. But that was before Keagan's life changed.

"Keagan is absolutely cured from his epilepsy," said Dr. Angus Wilfong, director of the Texas Children's Hospital Epilepsy Program.

Cured by a new laser surgery on the brain that removed the abnormality that caused his seizures through a tiny opening in his brain the size of a pencil lead.

"We were able to destroy his lesion with one minute of laser therapy," said Dr. Daniel Curry, who conducts the laser epilepsy surgery.

One minute laser versus the knife and four to five hours.

Many children and adults who would have been helped by epilepsy surgery have been wary of it because a craniotomy is a big surgery and in itself can cause brain damage and disabilities. But this new safer surgery changes that.

"It is a very difficult decision. You're doing brain surgery on your child," said Keagan's father Khris Dysart. "But it's definitely worth it. It's definitely worth it."

"We couldn't have asked for better results," Robin said.

Keagan has been seizure free since March.

"It's very better to have those seizures gone," Keagan said.

It's the beginning of Keagan Dysart's new life.

The first six children to have this new laser brain surgery at Texas Children's are now all seizure-free.

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