RNS System - Responsive Neurostimulation for Epilepsy

The RNS System offers hope to those living with intractable epilepsy

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RNS System Implant. NeuroPace, courtesy of NYU Langone Medical Center

The RNS (Responsive Neurostimulation) System is implanted in your skull to treat epilepsy. It detects the beginnings of seizures and then delivers tiny electrical pulses that can "zap" your brain back to normal. This implant offers hope to those living with epilepsy that hasn't responded well to drug treatment.

The system, manufactured by NeuroPace Inc., received approval in November 2013 from the Food and Drug Administration to treat patients’ seizures that have not been controlled by two or more antiepileptic medications.

What Is RNS?

Think of RNS as a pacemaker for your brain.

The device is implanted in the brain, where it first collects data on brain activity on abnormal electrical signals, which can signal an epileptic seizure. After it's been in place for a while (two or more weeks), your doctors will set it to respond to abnormal brain electrical signals by delivering tiny electrical pulses to the brain that normalize the brain's electrical activity.

The device essentially "reboots" the portion of the brain where the epileptic seizure is originating. This interrupts the abnormal electrical activity before it spreads or causes its unwanted effects.

Implants Now More Widely Available

NYU Langone Medical Center was the first hospital outside of a clinical trial site to implant the device in a patient with epilepsy. Since then, other major epilepsy centers, including centers at Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute in Houston, Tex., Spectrum Health in Michigan and Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, have begun offering the device.

RNS is considered to be a new alternative treatment to vagus nerve stimulation or the surgical removal of the focus site. Surgical removal of the focus site is also known as resection.

Meet Emily

Emily has lived with uncontrolled seizures for more than 10 years. She recently made the decision to see if she was a candidate to have a portion of her brain removed to control her seizures.

However, her team at NYU was not convinced a resection would be successful.

So Emily, her parents, and her doctor, Werner Doyle, MD, associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at NYU Langone, looked into the possibility of implanting the RNS as a means to control her seizures.

Having RNS as an alternative was extremely important to Emily, who was one of NYU's first patients to receive the implant. This treatment could possibly enable her to reach many of her personal goals in life such as getting her Master's in Social Work and traveling the world to do humanitarian work. To learn more about Emily visit Living Well With Epilepsy.

Intractable Epilepsy

"Medically intractable epilepsy is often a debilitating disorder that puts sufferers at risk of sudden loss of consciousness and uncontrolled movements. It stigmatizes patients and restricts their independence," said Dr. Doyle.

Approximately 1% of the world's population, or 7.2 million people, suffer from epilepsy. Those numbers are set to grow exponentially in the short term, since approximately one in 26 people is expected to be diagnosed in their lifetimes.

Additionally, approximately one-third of epilepsy patients do not respond to medications and face major challenges with daily living. Uncontrolled seizures may interfere with normal activities such as working, going to school and driving. Patients also face increased risk for anxiety, depression, injury, brain damage, and in rare cases, death.

For more information

To learn more about this pacemaker-like device that may well be a game-changer for people who experience uncontrolled seizures please feel free to visit any of the following links:

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