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SSM Health Medical Minute: Deep brain stimulation helping patients with epilepsy

ST. LOUIS - At SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital, Dr. Richard Bucholz has been a leader in deep brain stimulation in the region, developing a software program called Stealth Station that is being used in operating rooms around the world for implantation. Deep brain stimulation is a neurological procedure where surgeons implant a medical device called a neurostimulator sending electrical impulses to specific targets in the brain.

Deep brain stimulation has been done for many years for those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease to ease tremors as well as patients with depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Last year, the FDA expanded its approval of deep brain stimulation to give patients with epilepsy hope for a better quality of life. The results have reduced seizures by up to 70 percent for many of the patients who have been treated with this technique.

“We feel that doing deep brain stimulation may prove to be a useful intervention in individuals who are devastated by their seizure activity,” Dr. Bucholz said.

The devices are implanted on two sides and are connected to a generator on the chest to give constant stimulation based upon the recording. It can be programmed to be more intense during seizures, for example at night, when seizures tend to be more common. Dr. Bucholz is planning his first deep brain stimulation procedure at SSM Health SLU Hospital in February.

Those with epilepsy who are candidates for deep brain stimulation include:

Ages 18 and over
Have focal onset seizures
Have medically refractory epilepsy which means their seizures have not been controlled with trials of 3 anti-seizure medicines

To learn more about treating epilepsy, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Wednesday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.​

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