South Georgia Medical Center Neurosurgeon Dr. Kimberly Mackey recently became the first surgeon on the east coast to offer Sen Tiva DUO, a new implantable pulse generator (IPG) that provides Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy for epilepsy treatment.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, more than three million people in the U.S., and over 65 million people worldwide, live with epilepsy. People with epilepsy have seizures which are unexpected electrical “storms” in the brain.
While the VNS procedure is not new, Dr. Mackey is the only board-certified adult and pediatric neurosurgeon in South Georgia that performs the therapy. It is designed to treat drug-resistant epilepsy in adults and children as young as four years old who have partial-onset seizures.
Seizures impact the lives of epilepsy patients in many ways, including creating barriers to employment and education and facing a sense of discrimination and isolation from their peers who donʼt understand what happens when they see a seizure occur. While most people living with epilepsy are well-controlled on their first anti-seizure medication, people who live with difficult-to-control seizures are not often aware of the latest treatment options.
Dr. Mackey explained that the device sends mild pulses through the vagus nerve to areas of the brain associated with seizures. People with a VNS often experience fewer seizures, and if seizures occur, they are shorter and less severe with better recovery.
The device is programmed in the outpatient clinic to deliver pulses or stimulation at regular intervals. A patient does not need to do anything for this device to work. A person with a VNS device is usually not aware of the stimulation while it is working.
However, if a person is aware of a seizure happening, they can swipe a magnet over the generator in the left chest area to send an extra burst of stimulation to the brain. For some people, this may help stop seizures.
To learn more, visit epilepsy.com or speak with your neurologist. Dr. Mackey sees patients at SGMC and at her practice, SGMC Neurosurgery, which is located in the Professional Building at 2409 N. Patterson Street in Valdosta.