High-Tech Imaging May Lead to Development of New Therapies
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - Researchers have discovered brief moments of oxygen deprivation prior to an epileptic seizure in the areas of the brain where the episodes occur. Detecting dropping oxygen in the tissue -- called hypoxia -- may eventually lead to the development of therapies that recognize these events and prevent the seizures from occurring. Experts have published results in three different peer-reviewed journals describing their observations in brains of rats and humans.
Using special high-resolution video cameras, Dr. Theodore H. Schwartz, a neurosurgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and his team, including Drs. Hongtao Ma and Mingrui Zhao, are able to capture visible changes in blood flow inside the brain. Hemoglobin, the molecule in the blood that delivers oxygen to tissues in the body, changes color from dark to bright red when oxygenated, allowing scientists to see visible changes in oxygen delivery to the brain in real-time. Dr. Schwartz believes that oxygen deprivation to the same areas over time may explain the brain damage and increasing severity of seizures in epileptic patients.
Dr. Schwartz, who is also a professor of neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, says in the future a device that can detect hypoxia in the brain, and then deliver a drug to prevent epilepsy, may be able to counteract and prevent a seizure before it happens. The idea is similar to a pacemaker that prevents irregular pumping of the heart.
The three studies have recently been published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the Journal of Neurophysiology, and the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism.