Health Watch: Robotic ROSA enables doctors to stop seizures

Around 500,000 children in the U.S. have epileptic seizures. The effects can be devastating, especially when medicine can't help to stop seizures. In some cases, doctors ordered a craniotomy to find the source of the seizures... until robotic ROSA entered the picture.

For 7-year-old Molly Britt, nothing beats an ice cream sundae. Especially, when a cherry is on top.

These are the kind of moments mom and dad weren't sure they would ever be able to have with Molly. She was born with tuberous sclerosis.

"It's a rare genetic disorder where benign tubers can be found throughout the major organs of the body," Molly's mother, Bridget Britt, explained to Ivanhoe.

Gerald Grant, MD, Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Stanford Children's Health stated, "All they do is disrupt some of the normal networks of the brain."

"I think at about two or three months old, we started noticing Molly making some strange movements," recalled Molly's father, Jeremy Britt.

"She started developing what we learned were seizures," Bridget said.

Dr. Grant explained, "It becomes challenging to figure out which tuber is the one that is causing the seizures."

Without opening up Molly's skull or shaving her entire head, doctors made one-millimeter holes in her scalp. They used something called ROSA.

"ROSA is a robotic tool that allows us to precisely and more efficiently target deep areas of the brain," Dr. Grant told Ivanhoe.

"We opened up the bone to get into the brain and place large electrodes on the surface of the brain to try to figure out where the seizures were coming from," Dr. Grant elaborated.

Doctors were able to quickly pinpoint the source of the seizures for surgery later.

"Then they reopen and then go back and actually extract that portion of the brain tissue," Jeremy clarified.
"Within a matter of weeks, we were seeing huge changes," Jeremy continued.

"It has been ... just miraculous," Bridget shared.

It takes doctors approximately a week to gather the data they need from the electrodes. After that, the patient can return home. The method is used on both children and adult patients when medicine fails to stop their seizures. Other hospitals using ROSA include Children's Hospital Colorado, Oregon Health and Science University, Seattle Children's Hospital, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Contributors: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Jennifer Winter, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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