Doctors Take Part Of Boy's Brain To Stop 100 Seizures A Day - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Doctors Take Part Of Boy's Brain To Stop 100 Seizures A Day

YAHOO.COM - Tom Parrent was home alone with his son 3-year-old Sam -- better known as "Spike" -- when after lunch the boy told his father he was "really, really tired" and need to take a nap.

The North Carolina preschooler couldn't even make it upstairs to bed, so he collapsed on the couch and drifted off to sleep.

"A few minutes later, I heard this animal scream and he was in grand mal seizure," said Parrent, 51, a senior managing director at AIG. "Up to that point he had been a perfectly healthy boy. It was absolutely terrifying."

The event in January 2011 lasted about five minutes, but in the grueling year ahead, Spike's seizures escalated to 70 to 100 a day. Doctors were ready to put him in a coma, and his parents feared that he would die.

By November, Spike was referred to the Cleveland Clinic where surgeons removed half of the frontal lobe of his brain, a radical step, but one that saved his life. Today, the boy is in kindergarten and is not only seizure free, but is as healthy as any other boy his age.

"He's doing exceptionally well," his father said. "Although specialists can see some differences in timing of development from his peers, in every other way he is just a normal, happy, healthy kid."

In a study published this week in the Annals of Neurology, researchers have found that for the youngest epilespy patients for whom medication doesn't work, frontal lobe surgery can stop seizures -- in many cases forever.

Doctors say the brain essentially rewires itself to compensate for the removed lobe or lobes. Where the seizure originates is essentially damaged and so removing it actually helps the health of the brain.

"We have a chance with this surgery to really give people their life back," said Dr. Lara Jehi, lead study author and director of the Cleveland Clinic Epilepsy Center, where about 100 pediatric surgeries are performed each year.

Researchers reviewed 158 patients who underwent frontal lobe epilepsy surgery from 1995 to 2010. They found that patients who had a shorter duration of epilepsy were almost twice as likely to be seizure free after surgery.

Epilepsy is a chronic medical condition marked by recurrent seizures, an altered brain function caused by abnormal, excessive or electrical discharges from brain cells.

It affects an estimated 3 million Americans, or about 1 percent of the population, according to the Cleveland Clinic Epilepsy. About 1 in 4 patients do not respond to medication, and for them, a frontal lobectomy can provide a "cure."

Those with the worst form of epilepsy -- with convulsions and big seizures with stiffening and shaking -- usually have malfunctions in the frontal lobe, according to Jehi.

Those who are resistant to medication are apt to suffer injuries and accidents. They are also three to 12 times more prone to sudden death.

"They go to sleep and never wake up," she said.

Most epilepsy patients wait decades before being offered surgery and doctors say more might seek this option.

The frontal lobe part of the brain, which controls executive functions and language, was once considered "difficult to tackle," Jehi said.

"We found that the mere fact of time -- waiting too long before you do surgery -- is the most harmful thing you can do to a patient's brain," Jehi said.

Patients who have surgery within five years of epilepsy onset have an 80 percent to 90 percent chance of being seizure-free for life, she said.

"If you wait more than five years, it drops to 10 percent," she said.

Surgery may sound daunting, but Jehi said the mortality rate is less than .02 percent. And the earlier it is done, the better the outcome.

Such was the case with Spike, but the family's journey to get answers was difficult.

After Spike's first seizure, doctors told Parrent and his wife Jo Jo, 41, that it was likely caused by a fever and was "normal."

"They said it's scary, but that's the end of it," said Parrent. "He resumed all his activities and was fine."

But soon, the boy had more seizures, "less severe, but still horribly frightening," his father said. "Then one day, he had six of them."

Spike was put on seizure medication, drugs that made him hyperactive and still didn't curb the epileptic episodes. On a visit to a neurologist, the boy had a seizure right in the office.

The seizures increased to 10 a day, then 20 a day. "Sometimes, he'd get a cluster of them, four or five at once," Parrent said.

In late January, the family took Spike to Duke University to see one of the world's leading pediatric neurologists, Dr. Mohamad Mikati.

"Spike was completely bedridden, but aware," Parrent said. "In the middle of seizure they would say a phrase completely out of context -- 'pink giraffe' -- and when they would ask him, 'What did I say?' when he was fully conscious, he would get it right. He could hear everything."

A series of drugs didn't work. Now the seizures were coming 50 times a day. At one point a team of specialists convened just to discuss Spike's unusual condition.

"Often at a conference, a patient will have three doctors involved -- Spike had 24," his father said. "We had absolutely everybody and kudos to Duke for flooding the resources in."

Soon the seizures were up to 70 a day and brain imaging couldn't find what was causing them, Duke doctors recommended surgery.

Surgeons drilled through the skull and took a biopsy to rule out cancer.

"The surgeon came out shaking his head -- he had never seen anything like this," Parrent said. "It was a material they couldn't identify. ... It indicated something might be going on, but nothing obvious."

Grasping at straws, Spike's family tried alternative medicine: a strict ketogenic diet that can change the body chemistry.

The ketogenic diet forces the child's body to burn fat around the clock by making fat the main food and keeping carbohydrates or sugars low. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, doctors don't know why a diet "that mimics starvation" by burning fat for energy works, but for some, it prevents seizures.

"We measured to the 10th of every gram for every meal, typically a cup of heavy cream and several ounces of butter and small piece of meat and one piece of broccoli," Parrent said. "It was horrible and he never had any relief from it."

After three days on the diet in the hospital, Spike's seizures subsided for 24 hours.

"We were stunned," he said. And at home, Spike "stuck the diet like no one else. He didn't go off it once."

Spike, now 4, never lost his upbeat personality.

"He was a favorite on the ward," his father said. "He accepted everything without a complaint the entire sickness."

At one point a technician doing an EEG offered the boy a lollipop and Spike refused.

And he never lost his sense of humor.

"Dr. Mikati met with us and showed us the actual EEG tracings. After he left, Spike asked to see what the EEG looked like," Parrent said. "He looked at the tracings for awhile and then pointed to the more active parts of the EEG. 'So,' Spike said, 'This part shows the spikes and these are slowing and here are the seizures.'"

His father confirmed he was right and Spike added, "From now on, I want to be called Mr. Smooth. I don't want any more spikes."

Spike stayed on the ketogenic diet for six months, but by August the seizures came back with a vengeance. A series of MRIs revealed a shadow, suggesting a genetic malformation of the right side frontal lobe of his brain.

Doctors at Duke referred Spike to the Cleveland Clinic. Doctors thought the brain was operable and surgery was scheduled.

Spike's last seizure was on Nov. 9, 2011, the day of his final surgery.

Today, at 6, Spike is thriving.

"His attention span is better," his father said. "His intelligence is fully there and he reads and writes. As we took him off the drugs, he's doing much better in school and is still incredibly bright and happy. Nothing prevents him from doing anything he wants.

"He's a normal kid in all regards."

His family later learned a malformation from birth was causing the seizures and surgery had corrected that.

"It was waiting there like a bomb," his father said. "It would have killed him."

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Spokane sex trafficking victim gets second chance as shop owner

    Spokane sex trafficking victim gets second chance as shop owner

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 8:42 PM EDT2018-09-19 00:42:17 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - From the outside, the Repeat Boutique looks like a lot of other thrift shops in Spokane.  Inside, some might describe the stuff for sale as old, used, discarded garbage -- but store manager CJ Curtis sees its potential. And just like the goods in her shop, CJ is on her way to a new life, one far from the one she once lived. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - From the outside, the Repeat Boutique looks like a lot of other thrift shops in Spokane.  Inside, some might describe the stuff for sale as old, used, discarded garbage -- but store manager CJ Curtis sees its potential. And just like the goods in her shop, CJ is on her way to a new life, one far from the one she once lived. 

    >>
  • Police impersonator attempts to pull over Spokane woman

    Police impersonator attempts to pull over Spokane woman

    Monday, September 17 2018 8:45 PM EDT2018-09-18 00:45:37 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - "He told me to pull over, and my jaw just dropped," a Spokane woman, who says a fake police officer tried to pull her over, doesn't want to be named. In fear, this could happen again. "It really scared me and kind of threw me off that night. I don't even want to drive by myself anymore," she said. She tells me that she was driving around North Spokane at night on her way home from work. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - "He told me to pull over, and my jaw just dropped," a Spokane woman, who says a fake police officer tried to pull her over, doesn't want to be named. In fear, this could happen again. "It really scared me and kind of threw me off that night. I don't even want to drive by myself anymore," she said. She tells me that she was driving around North Spokane at night on her way home from work. 

    >>
  • Tennessee boy shoots, kills mom's husband during fight

    Tennessee boy shoots, kills mom's husband during fight

    Wednesday, September 19 2018 10:52 AM EDT2018-09-19 14:52:53 GMT

    Authorities in eastern Tennessee say a 12-year-old boy shot and killed his mother's husband during a domestic dispute.    News outlets report 56-year-old Kevron Thomas "Tommy" Durham was shot twice with a rifle Saturday night. A release from District Attorney General Russell Johnson says authorities had received at least five previous calls from the home for domestic violence, although none resulted in criminal charges. 

    >>

    Authorities in eastern Tennessee say a 12-year-old boy shot and killed his mother's husband during a domestic dispute.    News outlets report 56-year-old Kevron Thomas "Tommy" Durham was shot twice with a rifle Saturday night. A release from District Attorney General Russell Johnson says authorities had received at least five previous calls from the home for domestic violence, although none resulted in criminal charges. 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Judge nixes Cosby request to step down; sentencing Monday

    Judge nixes Cosby request to step down; sentencing Monday

    Wednesday, September 19 2018 7:34 PM EDT2018-09-19 23:34:56 GMT

    (AP) - Days before sentencing, Bill Cosby's trial judge denied a defense motion to step down from the sex assault case because of what Cosby's team called a long-ago grudge with a pretrial witness. Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill has seen the case through two trials, hard-fought pretrial hearings and 15 defense lawyers since Cosby's arrest on Dec. 30, 2015.    

    >>

    (AP) - Days before sentencing, Bill Cosby's trial judge denied a defense motion to step down from the sex assault case because of what Cosby's team called a long-ago grudge with a pretrial witness. Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill has seen the case through two trials, hard-fought pretrial hearings and 15 defense lawyers since Cosby's arrest on Dec. 30, 2015.    

    >>
  • Police kill gunman who shot at them, others in Pennsylvania

    Police kill gunman who shot at them, others in Pennsylvania

    Wednesday, September 19 2018 7:29 PM EDT2018-09-19 23:29:42 GMT

    MASONTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Fayette County officials say police shot and killed a gunman who opened fire in the lobby of the Masontown Borough Center.  Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower confirmed Wednesday that a German Township police officer shot the gunman multiple times, killing him. 

    >>

    MASONTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Fayette County officials say police shot and killed a gunman who opened fire in the lobby of the Masontown Borough Center.  Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower confirmed Wednesday that a German Township police officer shot the gunman multiple times, killing him. 

    >>
  • Seattle University to divest endowment from fossil fuels

    Seattle University to divest endowment from fossil fuels

    Wednesday, September 19 2018 6:28 PM EDT2018-09-19 22:28:38 GMT

    SEATTLE (AP) - Seattle University says it will become the first university in Washington state to completely divest its endowment from fossil fuels.    The Seattle Times reports that within the next five years, the school will no longer have any of its $230 million endowment in the funds and securities of fossil-fuel companies.    

    >>

    SEATTLE (AP) - Seattle University says it will become the first university in Washington state to completely divest its endowment from fossil fuels.    The Seattle Times reports that within the next five years, the school will no longer have any of its $230 million endowment in the funds and securities of fossil-fuel companies.    

    >>
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Freeman delivers care packages in remembrance of Strahan

    Freeman delivers care packages in remembrance of Strahan

    Wednesday, September 19 2018 9:48 PM EDT2018-09-20 01:48:08 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Freeman strong. It's been just past a year since a young man opened fire in Freeman High School, killing one student and injuring three others. In that time, students and staff have come a long way in healing and today was another step in that direction. Today, students worked to give back. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Freeman strong. It's been just past a year since a young man opened fire in Freeman High School, killing one student and injuring three others. In that time, students and staff have come a long way in healing and today was another step in that direction. Today, students worked to give back. 

    >>
  • WATCH LIVE: Town hall event with McMorris Rodgers, Brown

    WATCH LIVE: Town hall event with McMorris Rodgers, Brown

    Wednesday, September 19 2018 8:57 PM EDT2018-09-20 00:57:45 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Wednesday night KHQ and the Spokesman Review will host a town hall candidate forum with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the top ranking female GOP member in the house, and her democratic rival, former state Sen. Lisa Brown.  Live coverage of the event will begin at 6 p.m. on KHQ, KHQ.com, and the KHQ app for your phone and TV. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Wednesday night KHQ and the Spokesman Review will host a town hall candidate forum with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the top ranking female GOP member in the house, and her democratic rival, former state Sen. Lisa Brown.  Live coverage of the event will begin at 6 p.m. on KHQ, KHQ.com, and the KHQ app for your phone and TV. 

    >>
  • Honda Accord, Civic top list of most-stolen cars in Washington

    Honda Accord, Civic top list of most-stolen cars in Washington

    Wednesday, September 19 2018 8:57 PM EDT2018-09-20 00:57:30 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Is your car at a greater risk of being stolen? A new report shows the top ten cars in Washington that owners need to start taking extra precautions tonight. Washington may have dropped 6 percent in auto thefts this year, but from last September, to right now, over 1,200 cars have been reported stolen.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Is your car at a greater risk of being stolen? A new report shows the top ten cars in Washington that owners need to start taking extra precautions tonight. Washington may have dropped 6 percent in auto thefts this year, but from last September, to right now, over 1,200 cars have been reported stolen.

    >>