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Northwell neurosurgeon first in New York to treat epilepsy with FDA-approved deep brain stimulation

Neurosurgeon Ashesh Mehta, MD, first in New York to treat epilepsy with FDA-approved deep brain stimulation.
Neurosurgeon Ashesh Mehta, MD, first in New York to treat epilepsy with FDA-approved deep brain stimulation.

Procedure targets the anterior nucleus of the thalamus


A neurosurgeon at North Shore University Hospital was the first to in New York perform deep brain stimulation (DBS) to treat refractory epilepsy since FDA approval of the minimally-invasive procedure. Jordan Gill, 22, of Brooklyn, underwent DBS to alleviate the debilitating seizures he’s suffered since fifth grade.

Ashesh Mehta, MD, Northwell Health’s director of epilepsy surgery, performed the two-part DBS procedure, targeting the anterior nucleus of the thalamus (ANT) on May 8 when he placed tiny stimulation electrodes into deep areas of the brain. Then Dr. Mehta implanted Medtronic’s Activa PC neurostimulator – a dual-channel device capable of delivering bilateral stimulation with a single device – one week later in a follow-up procedure. It contains a non-rechargeable battery and microelectronic circuitry to deliver a controlled electrical pulse to precisely target the seizures producing areas of the brain.

“When we originally saw Mr. Gill six years ago, we performed electroencephalography (EEG) brain monitoring to see where his seizures were originating,” said Dr. Mehta. “The seizures were deriving from critical areas of the brain which control movement and speech. As such, Mr. Gill was not a good candidate to receive resection surgery. We are delighted that ANT DBS has been approved for the treatment of refractory epilepsy, so we can help patients like Mr. Gill live a better quality of life.”

DBS is a minimally invasive option

While DBS has been used as a treatment option for movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease, this is the first case in New York after FDA approval to use DBS to treat refractory epilepsy, targeting ANT - a specific area deep within the brain.

DBS is a minimally invasive procedure that consists of two stages: first, the neurosurgeon places tiny electrodes or leads into the brain with the help of computer guidance; a week later, the neurosurgeon implants a neurostimulator under the skin, near the collarbone. The neurostimulator is connected to electrodes with extension wires and delivers electrical impulses to targeted areas of the brain, normalizing brain activity and alleviating seizure activity.

Neurostimulator to reduce seizure activity

This week, Dr. Mehta activated Mr. Gill’s neurostimulator and programmed the electrodes to stimulate the brain during a follow-up visit. Mr. Gill was taught how to adjust the device as needed and he should notice a gradual reduction in seizure activity within six months. Previous studies have shown that the longer patients continued ANT DBS therapy over time, they continued to see a reduction in the frequency and severity of their seizures.

DBS is more than an innovative fix to a lifetime of health issues for Mr. Gill. It represents a transformation in his quality of life. What Mr. Gill wants most of all is to simply get a job in an art store, live without the fear of another seizure and continue his love of painting.

To see if you are an eligible candidate for ANT DBS surgery, call Northwell Health’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at (855) 37-NEURO or click here.

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