Houston, Texas – July 28, 2011 – Blue Bird Circle Clinic doctors, patients and volunteers joined officials from Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) on July 18, 2011 to publicly announce an unprecedented MRI-guided laser surgery for epilepsy patients. The remarkable joint-efforts of dedicated doctors and researchers aided by Blue Bird Circle financial grants led to the new treatment method that significantly reduces risk of patient complications and recovery time.
The first-of-its-kind treatment was introduced to pediatric epilepsy patients at the Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology. The initial surgeries were performed by Dr. Daniel Curry, along with his Clinic associate, Dr. Angus Wilfong.
To date, five landmark procedures have been performed by Dr. Curry, who used real-time MRI-guided thermal imaging and laser technology to destroy lesions in the brain that cause epilepsy and uncontrollable seizures. These successful procedures were performed on Blue Bird Circle Clinic epilepsy patients ranging in age from five to 15 years old, with widely varied types of brain lesions. In all cases, patients have been seizure-free since surgery and most were released within one to five days.
According to hospital experts, this new surgical approach offers a safer and significantly less invasive alternative to craniotomy, currently the most commonly used cranial surgical treatment for epilepsy. For high-risk patients with deep brain lesions, this new technique can be particularly life-changing because the MRI-guided laser probe utilizes a much smaller pathway through the brain to reach a deep lesion.
“While we have been successful in curing epilepsy through open cranial surgery for quite some time, the benefits of this new approach in reducing risk and invasiveness while providing instant therapeutic effect may open the door for more epilepsy patients to see surgery as a viable option,” said Curry.
More than three million people in the U.S. are affected by epilepsy, including about 300,000 children under the age of 14. Uncontrollable seizures can affect a child’s memory, concentration, motor skills, school performance and quality of life. Drug therapies control seizures in about 60 percent of those with epilepsy. Invasive craniotomy, nerve stimulation and special diets are treatment options for patients who do not respond to medication.
About The Blue Bird Circle
Established in 1923 and celebrating 88 years of continuous community service, The Blue Bird Circle provides support to the Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Since affiliating with Texas Children’s Hospital in 2001, the Circle has supported The Blue Bird Clinic at TCH with more than $10 million in grants, as well as nearly 1 million volunteer hours. The Clinic is devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric neurological problems, and provides a comprehensive program that addresses developmental and neuromuscular problems. All attempts are made to provide resources for patients with limited financial means. The Clinic in the last five years has expanded from seeing 5,000 children per year to over 20,000 patient visits per year.