Mimi Murphy's Medical Breakthroughs: Radiation for Epilepsy

Medical Breakthroughs
By  | 

For many patients with epilepsy, medications can control their seizures. However, for some patients, the drugs do not work and brain surgery is their only option. Now, doctors say a less invasive procedure that has shown success in Europe is emerging in the states.

Marcia Wysong traveled three hours to undergo an experimental treatment for a life-altering disease. She tells Ivanhoe, "[I thought]: what else do I have to lose by doing this? Go in there and do what you have to do. Let's take care of it."

Wysong has epilepsy. As a small girl, she had her first seizures and was finally diagnosed in high school.

"I haven't had any answers. Doctors putting me on different meds and switching me back and forth," says Wysong. She takes 12 pills twice a day, but still has at least four seizures a month. Brain surgery was her only option for help, until now.

Radiation oncologist Paul DesRosiers, M.D., will try to stop Wysong's seizures by 201 beams of gamma radiation to the part of her brain that causes the seizures.

"We localize the area of diseased brain on MRI scans and then target the radiation to that area. We give a very high dose to a small area of diseased brain," Dr. DesRosiers, of Indiana University in Indianapolis, tells Ivanhoe.

Wysong is one of the first in the United States to have this treatment. She's treated in this machine, and she'll be home in just one day. In one European study, 18 of 20 treated patients became seizure-free.

She'll have to wait to know if the treatment worked for her, but for now, Wysong's hopes are set high.

If the treatment doesn't work, doctors say Wysong can still have the surgery if she wants it. As for the risks of the radiation treatment, doctors say the biggest risk is swelling of the brain that can cause headaches and other side effects.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Tia Whitford
Research Coordinator
Indiana University School of Medicine
535 Barnhill Drive, RT-041
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5289
(317) 274-2525