THE removal of a sliver of tissue from Oliver Terrell’s brain has meant the difference between him attending a special needs school or university.
That is how neurologists explained the impact Royal Children’s Hospital specialists have made to the five-year-old’s life through its epilepsy surgery program.
Oliver, who flew from NSW for the radical brain surgery, is the 500th patient to have parts of their brain removed to control seizures.
Program co-ordinator neurologist Dr Simon Harvey said in the past children like Oliver would have needed half their brain removed to control seizures, which would have compromised his movement and personality.
But improvements in brain imaging technology, coupled with new surgery techniques, now meant surgery was performed on younger patients, with greater precision and for conditions not previously considered treatable.
RCH neurologists and neurosurgeons now perform this procedure at least once a week.
Director of neurosurgery Wirginia Maixner said scans were used in Oliver’s surgery to show what critical pathways in the brain controlled speech, vision and movement so they could be avoided when deciding what parts to remove.
“Imaging techniques have developed to the point of being able to visualise surgical lesions previously invisible to my predecessors,” she said.
“As a consequence, smaller and smaller parts of the brain need to be removed to control epilepsy.”
A stroke at birth left scar tissue in Oliver’s brain that caused cerebral palsy and uncontrollable seizures, affecting his learning, behaviour and social skills. It’s been nine days since his brain surgery and nine days since his last seizure.
“We can see the bright, funny, sparky, delightful, smart little boy we knew before the seizures started when he was three,” mum Kimberley said.
Source: Herald Sun