The RNS system (responsive neurostimulation), which is slightly bigger than a flash drive, consists of a generator attached to electrodes that are permanently implanted over brain sites where seizures start. The device is programmed to automatically detect seizures and then terminate them with electrical impulses. Seizure activity from individual patients is uploaded into the “cloud”, so that physicians and dedicated engineers can monitor their progress. The RNS implant was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in November 2013.
Neurosurgeon Matthew Adamo, M.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery at Albany Med, performed the surgery along with neurologist Anthony Ritaccio, M.D., ’84, director of Albany Med’s Epilepsy and Human Brain Mapping Program and J. Spencer Standish professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Albany Medical College, who programmed the device to sense and capture seizures. In a follow up visit, Ritaccio will program instructions for electrical stimulation to stop seizures based on these initial recordings. To date, they have implanted two devices.
“RNS is an exciting treatment option that has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of those patients who previously had no other options,” said Dr. Ritaccio. He said that nearly one-third of epilepsy patients do not respond to medication, and surgery is not always an option depending on where in the brain the seizures are triggered.”
“The RNS device is surgically implanted into the skull and electrodes are placed on the brain surface or into the brain tissue in order to record and eventually stimulate the brain in an area where seizures originate, allowing us to target the area precisely and control the seizures more effectively,” said Dr. Adamo.
The device is only implantable at Level 4 epilepsy centers such as Albany Medical Center. A Level 4 rating from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers indicates a center offers the most advanced medical and surgical treatment options for epilepsy.
Albany Med’s Epilepsy and Human Brain Mapping Program, which is part of the Neurosciences Institute, evaluates more than 350 patients each year in its inpatient epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU). The EMU offers the most technologically sophisticated monitoring experience available, including wireless brainwave recording. Brain mapping techniques are used to locate areas of the brain important for language, memory and movement to safely guide surgical tissue removal in order to stop the seizures.
To learn more about Albany Med’s epilepsy program and how our neurologists and neurosurgeons have helped patients overcome epilepsy, visit www.amc.edu/neuro.
Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 734-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with more than 450 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.