SNI Blog

SNI Blog

New Brain Stimulator Approved to Treat Epilepsy

Ryder P. Gwinn, MD

On November 14th, 2013 the FDA gave its approval for an implanted brain stimulator to treat patients with medically refractory epilepsy. Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders affecting nearly 1 in 100 Americans. This device has been under investigation for 10 years at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute (SNI) Epilepsy Center.

As principal investigator for the trial, I led  a team including Dr. Michael Doherty, Dr. Lisa Caylor and Dr. Alan Haltiner, along with the research department at Swedish to investigate the safety and effectiveness of the device through pivotal trials. The results showed that the responsive neurostimulator system (RNS) made by NeuroPace was indeed effective in treating patients with drug resistant seizures.

Why is this so significant? This device represents the first new non-medication treatment for seizures proven to be effective since 1997, and gives new hope to patients whose lives have been put on hold due to seizures. ...

Brain Aneurysm Awareness: Spreading the Word

Tami Bloom

Tami Bloom
Business Development Specialist, Swedish Neuroscience Institute

September is National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month and across the country, those affected by various forms of the disease raise awareness through fundraising and visibility events. Bringing a voice to the disease may seem daunting in a sea of awareness ribbons and weekend community walks—but  Swedish had the opportunity to focus a spotlight on Seattle as host for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation’s Annual Symposium. This Massachusetts-based organization is the nation’s only not-for-profit profit organization solely dedicated to providing critical awareness, education, support and research funding to reduce the incidence of brain aneurysms. Swedish Neuroscience Institute physicians teamed up with other elite physicians from across the country and others in the medical community, in addition to volunteers and Brain Aneurysm Foundation members to learn more about advances in research for the disease.

One unique component to this important event was the attendance of members of the Swedish Cerebrovascular Support Group. The group, established in 2012, brings together patients, family members and caregivers to share their experiences, with the goal of alleviating fears and concerns through education and group discussions...

Life-saving technology and getting the word out about radiosurgery

Erin Kieper

Erin Kieper
Program Development Manager, Swedish Radiosurgery Center

Twice last week I received phone calls from grateful family members thanking us for taking care of their loved ones when treatment options were dwindling. One patient is now 4 years past his CyberKnife treatment for inoperable lung cancer and is going strong and living life to the fullest. The other patient was recently treated and is feeling great and planning a European vacation. Both families are extremely appreciative for the care they received but both voiced frustration that they stumbled upon this treatment option by chance and that we need to do a better job of publicizing the radiosurgery modalities. As the person receiving these calls, I am thrilled to hear how our center has positively impacted so many lives but struggle with how to get the word out to those who may benefit from radiosurgery in the future. So with our patients’ stories fresh in my mind, here is an introduction to radiosurgery.

Stereotactic radiosurgery is targeted radiation therapy delivered to nearly any body part with precision while utilizing real time image guidance. The ....

Study Makes Waves in Treating Essential Tremor

Stephen J. Monteith

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

David W. Newell, MD

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:

Do you know the symptoms of a brain aneurysm?

Joseph M. Eskridge, MD

Joseph M. Eskridge, MD
Interventional Neuroradiologist

It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day demands and ignore changes in our health. It may not be wise, however, to dismiss those changes as symptoms of a hectic life. Blurred vision, dizziness or headaches that don’t get better can signal something serious.

Anywhere from 1 to 6 percent of Americans have a brain aneurysm but don’t know it. An aneurysm is a blister-like bulge on the wall of a blood vessel. It can go unnoticed for a long time. If it’s not treated, the pressure of the blood weakens the vessel, and the aneurysm grows like a balloon filling with air. If the aneurysm bursts, it causes a stroke.

An aneurysm can put pressure on nerves or tissue in the brain, which may cause:

  • Headache or neck pain
  • Vision problems, enlarged pupil, drooping eye lid
  • Numb face
  • Severe drowsiness

If you have a brain aneurysm, your doctor may ...

International visitors to the Radiosurgery Center

Erin Kieper

Erin Kieper
Program Development Manager, Swedish Radiosurgery Center

The Swedish Radiosurgery Center was a featured stop for the nursing students from Kobe City College of Nursing during their recent visit to Seattle. The students toured the center where they learned about our CyberKnife and Gamma Knife programs.

I was very impressed that the patient care is personalized to respect the needs of every individual. I have a lot of respect for staff who sincerely work with patients regardless of their background and circumstances. We learned the importance of having confidence in our field as medical professionals and the great privilege of serving ones in need.”

- Keiko Kikuchi, RN, PHN, Assistant Professor, Kobe City College of Nursing.

The group learned ...

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Top Authors

Karen Pabillon
John W Henson IV

John W Henson IV
Director, Neurology

Peggy Shortt, MN, ARNP

Peggy Shortt, MN, ARNP
Manager, Swedish Deep Brain Stimulation Program

Erin Kieper

Erin Kieper
Program Development Manager, Swedish Radiosurgery Center