Vanderbilt installs new epilepsy monitoring systems

New epilepsy monitoring systems at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are enabling better collection of data to diagnose and treat patients with seizures.

The new systems, valued at $1 million, have been installed at VUMC’s two Epilepsy Monitoring Units—one at Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital and the other at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital. They are the largest EMUs in Tennessee with eight adult and four pediatric monitoring beds, respectively.

Electroencephalography (EEG) data and high-resolution video are leveraged by the systems to monitor and record the electrical brain activity of adult and pediatric patients’ seizures in a safe, controlled environment to accurately diagnose epilepsy and develop personalized treatment plans.

“Patients are admitted to the hospitals for EEG and video monitoring so we can determine where the seizures are coming from and can plan a surgery to try to stop those seizures,” says Dario Englot, MD, neurosurgical director of epilepsy. “The quality of the data we get from that monitoring is very much limited by the quality of that equipment. The previous system we had was over 10 years old.”

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Dr. Bassel W Abou-Khalil along with Dr. Dario Englot look over the new epilepsy monitoring unit with monitor tech Ray Chery-Barkie in the Epilepsy Division on the 6th floor of VUH. (John Russell/Vanderbilt University)

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According to Englot, the EEG monitoring on the new equipment is sensitive to high-frequency rhythms, while video monitoring on the new systems is significantly improved with two high-resolution cameras focused on each patient bed.

“The quality of the old data was limited, and the speed at which we could collect the data with the previous system prevented us from doing analysis of high-frequency rhythms,” adds Englot. “High-frequency rhythms, we are now learning, can be very important to helping us determine where seizures are coming from.”

EEG recordings of brain electrical activity are taken either from the scalp or from surgically implanted electrodes when localization is difficult.

“This new equipment will allow us to study more complex patients using many more electrodes and will advance epilepsy surgery at Vanderbilt in the process,” says Bassel Abou-Khalil, MD, founder and director of the Vanderbilt Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and Clinical Epilepsy Program. “We’re excited about a couple of features. First, the video resolution will allow us to study signs that we were not able to see previously. Also, the increased number of channels will allow us to do more extensive studies that were not possible before.”

VUMC has the only Level 4 Epilepsy Center for adults in Tennessee and is one of only two Level 4 Epilepsy Centers for children in the state.

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