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Specialist new tool will help surgeons spot epilepsy in the brain

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Viktor Jirsa

A new tool has been developed which will help surgeons operating on epilepsy patients.

Scientists says the tool will mean surgeons will be able to make better clinical decisions during theatre.

More than 50 million people in the world suffer from epilepsy which is a common neurological disorder. Sudden brain activity across the brain can cause seizures.

Some epileptic conditions are resistant to medication, and the most common treatment for these patients is the removal of the ‘epileptogenic zone’, the areas of the brain, where the seizures happen.

In surgery, success depends on being able to locate this zone in the brain.

“But in clinical practice this often proves very difficult, and the average surgery success rate remains at only around 60 per cent”, said scientist Viktor Jirsa. “Any improvement would have major impact for many patients”.

The scientist has developed a high definition tool, called ‘The Virtual Brain’, to model and predict activity in an individual patient’s brain. Along with the neurologist Fabrice Bartolomei, they adapted the model to epilepsy, simulating the spread of individual seizure activity.

A clinical trial is currently underway to evaluate the model and is not yet available to patients.

The team is now working on the next generation of The Virtual Brain, which boosts the accuracy of the model further using the EBRAINS research infrastructure. 

They aim to significantly scale up the potential for personalised brain models with the help of large brain data sets from the Brain Atlas.

This includes the most detailed 3D representation of the brain’s anatomy, the BigBrain, at a resolution of 20 micrometers.

“The tool enables the application of deep learning and other methods to find the configuration that most closely matches the patient’s own recordings of brain dynamics. This is an important step towards pinpointing the epileptogenic zone with greater precision.,” said Mr Jirsa.

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