Milestone epilepsy surgery performed at Westmead private
Feb 16, 2021
A device which is used to manage difficult-to-treat epilepsy is now available for the first time in a New South Wales private hospital.
Westmead Private Hospital has installed the most recent SenTiva Vagal Nerve Stimulator (VNS) in Australia, giving private patients access to treatment which was previously only available at one public hospital.
The VNS is a device which is attached to a nerve in the neck and provides a current which may reduce the number of seizures a person experiences over time as well as improve the person’s overall quality of life.
The device was implanted by Westmead Private Hospital neurosurgeon, Professor Mark Dexter, who is also Director of the Epilepsy Surgery Program at Westmead Health Precinct.
Dr Michael Fong from Neurology New South Wales said giving patients access to neurostimulation at Westmead Private Hospital was a great milestone.
“More than one-third of patients with epilepsy can’t control their condition with anti-seizure medications. For some of them, surgery may be an option but for many this is too risky or not possible for their epilepsy type,” Dr Fong said.
“Neurostimulation can help reduce the abnormal electrical activity of the brain, which results in seizures, and the most established way of performing neurostimulation is a Vagal Nerve Stimulator.”
“Not only has Westmead Private placed the first privately inserted VNS devices in New South Wales, it is also the first in Australia to utilise the most up-to-date technology in SenTiva. This new device is only about the size of a 50 cent coin and is significantly smaller than previous models,” he said.
Westmead Private Hospital’s SenTiva VNS also provides great benefit to regional patients looking to be fitted with the device, because they need fewer return visits to hospital for examination.
Unlike previous models which required fortnightly to monthly check-ups with the patient, the SenTiva VNS allows the neurologist to determine up to three months therapy before they need to see the patient again.
The SenTiva device also allows a different amount of therapy to be scheduled between night and day which can be invaluable in patients whose seizures occur predominantly at the same time.