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Neuroscience (SNI) Blog

'Neuroscience Institute' Neuroscience (SNI) posts

Drug treatment and weight loss restores vision in a blinding disorder linked to obesity

As many as 100,000 Americans suffer from a disorder called pseudotumor cerebri or idiopathic intracranial hypertension that can cause permanent blindness and chronic headaches. The disease primarily strikes obese women of reproductive age with symptoms of daily headaches, visual symptoms including transient blurring or blindness, double vision, and pulsating noises in one’s head. Up to 5-10% of these patients may have permanent visual loss due to optic nerve damage.
 
A recent national trial funded by the National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute has shown that a common water pill, acetazolamide, combined with a moderate but comprehensive dietary and lifestyle modification plan can restore and preserve vision in women with this disease. I was one of the local investigators for this trial along with Dr. Eugene May.
 
The symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri are thought to be due to high spinal fluid pressure around the optic nerves and brain due to impaired reabsorption of spinal fluid that is continuously being produced within the brain. This results in chronic headaches and swelling of the optic nerves that can lead to permanent blindness if left untreated. Patients typically are ...

Supporting patients with Parkinson's Disease

On Saturday, May 17, Swedish was well represented at the Washington Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Annual Magic of Hope Dinner and Auction.  Several of our Swedish Neuroscience Institute providers, patients, caregivers, families, and distinguished community members attended the event, and contributed toward a successful fund raiser.  Swedish offered a generous donation to help sponsor the event, and Swedish patient and his wife David and Nancy Jones contributed a generous financial gift for programs and services for those living with Parkinson’s Disease in our communities.

Swedish is proud to partner with the APDA to support research, education, programs and services that stay in our community to benefit those living with Parkinson's Disease.

Pituitary Tumors: Diagnosis and Management

The Swedish Pituitary Center at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute is one of the country’s largest centers for treating disorders of the pituitary gland – including pituitary tumors. The center brings together endocrinologists, neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists to offer a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of these tumors.
 
Tumors in the pituitary gland are quite common and many of them are so small they may go undetected throughout life. Although 99 percent of pituitary tumors are benign, the associated symptoms can be
debilitating, especially with hormone-secreting tumors. Regardless of the type of tumor, individuals with pituitary tumors may experience headaches, blurred vision, impotence/infertility, and mood changes.

Update from essential tremor (ET) forum

On Saturday, January 25, essential tremor (ET) patients in the community gathered for a symposium on the diagnosis, medical management and interventions for the treatment of tremor.  Swedish planned the event in collaboration with the International Essential Tremor Foundation.  Over 120 people in our community gathered to learn and share their stories. Dr. Gwinn discussed the MR Focused Ultrasound study, Gamma Knife, and Deep Brain Stimulation as treatment options for essential tremor.  Patients also shared their experiences with DBS.  It was a great event!

Debilitating Facial Pain May Be Trigeminal Neuralgia

All pain can be frightening, but when patients describe sharp, electric-type pain in their face, the cause may be Trigeminal Neuralgia, a treatable pain syndrome manifesting as unilateral facial pain that can be severe in intensity. The pain occurs in one or more distributions of the trigeminal nerve. The pain usually lasts for several seconds to several minutes followed by periods of being pain free. Trigeminal neuralgia pain can be triggered by sensory stimuli to the face including talking, brushing teeth, eating, and touching the face. In some cases, there is no trigger. The annual incidence of trigeminal neuralgia is approximately 4 in 100,000. The initial workup for trigeminal neuralgia may include an MRI of the brain to rule out brain tumor or MS plaques.

In many cases, trigeminal neuralgia is caused by compression of the facial nerve most commonly by the superior cerebellar artery or the anterior inferior cerebellar artery, although trigeminal neuralgia can be due to compression by a persistent permanent trigeminal artery or odioectatic basilar artery. Other causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia can include demyelinating disease (such as multiple sclerosis) and tumor. In some cases, the cause of Trigeminal Neuralgia is  ...

Study Makes Waves in Treating Essential Tremor

The treatment of neurologic disease took a major step forward this past week with the publication of a clinical trial that used ultrasound waves to treat Essential Tremor.  Essential tremor affects about 10 million people in the USA and can be extremely disabling. For patients that fail medical therapy invasive surgical options are considered, including deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS surgeries involve drilling a hole in the skull and implanting an electrode into structures deep in the brain to turn off the unwanted signals that cause the tremor.

A study of 15 patients lead by Dr. Jeff Elias (University of Virginia) was published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week and describes how researchers used ultrasound waves to effectively treat Essential tremor non-invasively – no cutting or drilling:

 

Treating Arteriovenous Malformations to Remove the Risk of Rupture

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in the brain is a relatively rare condition – occurring in less that 1 percent of the population. It can, however, be neurologically morbid in young adults ages 15 to 20, who are at the greatest risk for hemorrhage and least likely to exhibit symptoms. About 2 to 4 percent of all AVMs each year hemorrhage.

An AVM’s tangled mass of blood vessels, which forms in utero, produces multiple direct connections between arteries and veins without the normal, intervening capillaries. Symptoms often are not present until later in life or until after the AVM ruptures.

A small number of congenital syndromes, such as Sturge-Weber, Rendu-Osler-Weber, ataxia telangiectasia, and Wyburn-Mason, are associated with AVMs. Once formed, extrinsic factors, such as arterial shunting, growth factors and intracranial hemorrhage, may alter the size and shape of an AVM.

The most common types of AVMs are:

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