A new study published in the Journal of Neural Engineering finds that tracking “rogue brainwaves” can pinpoint exact location of epileptic seizures and thus help doctors better treat patients needing brain surgery.
What is epileptic seizure?
Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. Epileptic seizures can affect both males and females of all races, ethnic backgrounds and ages.
According to World Health Organization, around 50 to 60 million people worldwide are affected by epilepsy.
In most cases, anti-epileptic drugs can help control seizures. But in around 300 cases annually where drugs fail to provide adequate control over seizures, surgery is used to remove a specific area of the brain that's causing seizures.
Rogue waves can better identify the brain part triggering seizures
In order to help patients who need brain surgery, the researchers conducted a study to see if brain activity can identify the exact part of the brain triggering an epileptic seizure.
In the study, the researchers applied the "Hurst Exponent," a method to predict apparently random natural events such as 'rogue' ocean waves, to examine brain activity readouts in three patients with drug-resistant epilepsy awaiting brain surgery.
In two of the three patients tested, the Hurst Exponent had the same results as the traditional magnetoencephalography (MEG). In the third patient, however, the new analysis identified warning signs of seizure which traditional testing failed to detect.
With Hurst Exponent, the researchers gained a more accurate picture of the area of the brain from which the seizure originated.
“We see rogue waves in the brain when we look at data from patients with epilepsy and we can use these 'spikes' in the data to help the surgical team know where to operate," said Dr. Caroline Witton, lead author of the report.
In the foreseeable future, applying the Hurst Exponent test to the traditional tests can help surgeons better treat epileptic patients. The researchers are constantly working to develop methods that can better localize areas responsible for seizures in patients and reduce invasive procedures ahead of surgery.