New treatment in Edinburgh hospital allows epileptic children to live seizure-free

Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Children and Young People has become the first hospital in Scotland to offer a new surgery that can “completely cure” a child’s epilepsy.

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Using state-of-the-art laser technology surgeons will be able to carry out MRI-guided Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) for the first time ever in Scotland.

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This minimally invasive treatment removes brain tissue that is causing seizures and, in appropriate cases, can stop seizures entirely, curing the child’s epilepsy.

But thanks to the combined efforts of Welch Trust, Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity and NHS Lothian the life-changing surgery can now be performed in Edinburgh.

LITT will be used to treat children with refractory epilepsy who often experience severe and frequent ‘drop down’ seizures, up to 100 in one day.

This treatment is currently only available at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and in Houston, Texas.

But thanks to the combined efforts of Welch Trust, Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity and NHS Lothian the life-changing surgery can now be performed in Edinburgh.

Forming a new section of the Scottish National Paediatric Epilepsy Surgery Service at the Little France campus children from all over Scotland will be able to come to the Capital to have the surgery.

Currently, the standard surgical treatment on offer is open brain surgery, which lasts around seven hours, has a longer recovery time and results in a scar across the top of the child’s head.

The precision technology will reduce this surgery time to around two hours, is much less invasive and has a shorter recovery time.

It is expected that up to six children a year could benefit from the laser surgery, aged from infants to adolescents, with a similar number of adults also benefiting annually.

CEO of Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity Roslyn Neely said: “With the new children’s hospital now open, we are thrilled to have partnered with the Welch Trust to bring the world-class LITT equipment to Scotland for the first time.

“It is always very satisfying for us to be able to join with another funder who have a similar desire to support the hospital with projects that will transform children’s health.

“Having the laser surgery available in Edinburgh gives families more choice in their place of care and means they will no longer need to endure the financial and emotional cost of national or international travel and separation at a very stressful time. It will also place Edinburgh and NHS Lothian on the map as a world-leading provider of epilepsy surgery and treatment.”

Trustee of the Welch Trust Victoria Welch said they look forward to expanding services throughout the hospital.

She said: “We are very proud to be able to gift this LITT technology to the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People. As a Paediatric Nurse, I understand the importance of having the best equipment in the hospital to expedite the curing of patients with complicated conditions and ultimately save lives.

“When we were made aware of this need, we didn’t have to think too long about it. Our focus continues to be to invest in high-impact programmes that save lives or significantly improve the quality of life for very sick or terminally ill children. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity and expanding our support across other areas of critical care.”

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