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Seizure Solution

Monday, November 07, 2016 9:28 AM

Chicagoan John Murphy always had a strong work ethic—that is, until his epileptic seizures became so disabling they forced the 54-year-old to retire early from his lifelong job in building maintenance. Murphy suffered seizures for years and sought help from a variety of experts to no avail.

“John tried different medications. He received cranial stimulation. He even had part of the temporal lobe in his brain removed—but the seizures continued,” said Nurse Specialist Mardee Weber, who closely follows Murphy’s condition at NorthShore Neurological Institute.

Advanced Monitoring

In August 2014, Murphy underwent observation at NorthShore’s Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) at Evanston Hospital. 

“When John came to the EMU, he had run out of options,” explained NorthShore Neurologist and Epilepsy Specialist Jaishree Narayanan, MD, who directs the Neurological Institute’s epilepsy program. “He continued to suffer seizures several times a month, unable to control them.”

The EMU, a state-of-the-art inpatient unit, allowed Murphy’s neurology care team to deeply evaluate his epileptic patterns and localize the seizures to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

Dr. Narayanan offered Murphy renewed hope through an advanced technique called Visualase®, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided laser therapy. NorthShore is one of a handful of medical centers in the country that offer this minimally invasive treatment option.

During the Visualase procedure, a neurosurgeon inserts a thin laser fiber into the patient’s skull to precisely target an area of the brain with thermal ablation, heating the damaged tissue and destroying it to keep seizures at bay.

Outstanding Results

Murphy’s results were dramatic. “I’ve been seizure-free since under-going Visualase,” he said. With his epilepsy now under control, Murphy is eager to return to work. In the interim, he volunteers at his church and local alderman’s office. “Most of all,” he added, “I feel 1,000 percent better!” 

“John’s prognosis is good,” added Dr. Narayanan, who holds an academic appointment at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. “We’re so pleased that NorthShore can offer epilepsy patients the latest, most comprehensive medical and surgical treatment options available.”