Team Provides New Seizure Control Procedure for Children


Vol. 10, No. 2
June, 2000

  • Longer-Lasting Implants Used for Total Hip Replacement

  • Brachytherapy Service Expands to New Island Hospital
    Brachytherapy Expertise Benefits Patients at Winthrop’s Affiliate

  • New Technology Reduces Pain of Tonsillectomies

  • Tips for Safe Use of Insect Repellent Containing DEET

  • Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Six-Bed Vascular Stepdown Unit

  • Children’s Health Services Program:
    A Wealth of Information and Referrals

  • Pediatricians on Medical Mission to El Salvador

  • Stereotactic Technology System Expands the Parameters of ‘What is Operable’

  • Stroke Team Offers the Latest Treatments

  • Team Provides New Seizure Control Procedure for Children

  • MRI Unit Receives Three-Year Accreditation from the American College of Radiology

  • Emergency Department Receives Adelphi University Award

  • Ultra-fast, Multi-slice CT Scanner Installed in Radiology Department

  • Installation of Winthrop’s Auxiliary Officers

  • Lita Reilly Elected Auxilian of the Year

  • Annual Junior Volunteer Awards Ceremony

  • Focus on Home Care:
    Care without Compromise Comes Home

  • In the Swing of Things

  • Child Life Program Expands Hours and Services

  • Copyright

    Back to Publications


  • Mark Mittler, MD, Voluntary Attending, Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Winthrop, displays the vagus nerve stimulator (VNS), which can help control seizures in some patients.
    An innovative seizure control procedure was recently performed on an adolescent boy with epilepsy at Winthrop.

    The implantation of a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) had previously been reserved for adult patients whose seizures could not be successfully controlled with conventional anti-convulsant drugs. This patient was the first child at Winthrop to receive the VNS implant.

    Vijaya Atluru, MD, Director, Pediatric Neurology Division at Winthrop, and her associates, had referred the patient to Mark Mittler, MD. Dr. Mittler implanted the pacemaker-like device, which contains two wires that are tunneled up to the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve in the neck, next to the carotid artery.

    The device actually consists of a pair of electrodes, which are carefully wrapped around the delicate vagus nerve. The stimulator is implanted in the underarm, and connected with the vagus nerve electrodes through a tiny wire that runs under the skin.

    Vijaya Atluru, MD, Director, Pediatric Neurology Division at Winthrop.
    The patient was instructed to apply a magnet to the top of the device, in the underarm, when experiencing the onset of a seizure. Some patients are alerted to the impending seizure with a visual cue - a halo of light around people and objects. In very young patients, parents can apply the magnet when seizure activity is noticed. The touch of the magnet stimulates the nerve in the neck, which often prevents or controls seizures.

    Appropriate patients are usually identified by neurologists, and the implantation procedure is performed by a neurosurgeon. Approximately two weeks after the surgery, the device is turned on by a laptop computer in the neurologist’s office during an outpatient visit.

    “Clearly, the vagus nerve stimulator is not appropriate for all patients with seizure disorders,” noted Dr. Mittler. “Winthrop is one of the first hospitals in this region to utilize this new therapy for a youngster.”

    Concluded Dr. Atluru, “VNS is not viewed as ‘better’ than medicine. It works in conjunction with medicine. We expect that with VNS support, the anti-convulsant medication will be effective in preventing seizures. With the technology in place, many more children can benefit from VNS.”

    For additional information, call Dr. Atluru at (516) 663-9494.



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