Saturday, April 28, 2007

Surgery to relieve seizures performed for the 100th time!

Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center recently performed its 100 th hypothalamic hamartoma (HH) surgery.

Hypothalamic Hamartoma is a rare benign brain tumor that causes gelastic seizures in infancy. Without treatment the tumor can cause severe seizures, damage to the brain and lead to progressive cognitive impairment, extreme rage and/or precocious puberty as children age.

The hospital reached this surgical milestone last Friday when Harold Rekate, M.D., director of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Program at Barrow, operated on Devin O'Day, 18, of Las Vegas. Devin, who began having seizures soon after birth, was diagnosed with Hypothalamic Hamartoma in 2005 after she began experiencing rage attacks, cognitive decline and approximately four seizures a day.

"I'm so happy that treatment options are available for people with HH and am thankful for the Barrow team who treated me," says Devin.Because hypothalamic hamartomas lie in a portion of the brain that is hard to reach without causing severe damage to vital areas, removal of the tumors have been considered extremely difficult if not impossible. In 2003 Barrow adopted a surgical approach that has proven successful in reaching and removing the tumors and has developed a new endoscopic technique that allows the mass to be removed through a very small hole drilled in the skull and without a formal open craniotomy.

"It's rewarding to know that Barrow's HH team has made an impact on so many children and young adults within the last four years," says Dr. Rekate. "The majority of our patients are now seizure-free, are able to think better and control the rages that sometimes accompany this condition.

"Barrow opened the first Hypothalamic Hamartoma center in the United States in 2003 and has treated children from all over the world. It is the only comprehensive center in the nation to provide such services.


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