Laser zaps epilepsy

FRESNO, Calif.

Robin and Khris Dysart say their son Keagan had a seizure three times every hour. A craniotomy was the best chance for a cure. Surgeons may have to take out normal brain tissue to move the lesion causing the seizures. Complications can include paralysis and uncontrolled urination.

"There were lists of children who have died," said Robin Dysart, Keagan's mom.

"You can't put back brain that you wish you hadn't taken out," Angus Wilfong, M.D., director of the Texas Children's Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Texas Children's Hospital, said.

To avoid taking out any brain, doctors Wilfong and Daniel Curry of Texas Children's Hospital developed a low-risk minimally invasive MRI guided laser surgery to cure epilepsy. Keagan was one of their first patients. With a tiny instrument smaller than the size of a pencil lead, the doctors navigated their way to Keagan's deep-seated lesion.

"Actually it's possibly the worst place you can have a lesion," Daniel Curry, M.D., Director of the Functional Neurosurgery at Texas Children's Hospital, said.

With the MRI, they were able to see in real time exactly where they were in Keagan's brain. The doctors watched the laser destroy the lesion and cure Keagan's epilepsy.

"That's exactly what's happening and it's really amazing to see," Dr. Wilfong said.

Today Keagan's seizure free.

"Now the world has opened up to him," Robin Dysart said.

Instead of his seizure-induced giggles, he's a happy boy.

"We walked around the corner and he was really laughing for the first time we've ever heard him laugh at a TV show," Khris Dysart, Keagan's dad, said.

Texas children's hospital is the first in the world to perform the MRI guided laser surgery to cure epilepsy. The procedure was adopted from a technique to treat brain tumors. It's now being used for kids and adults. The doctors tell us some of their patients go home the day after their brain surgery.

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