Advanced Brain Mapping at Beaumont Health Helps Epilepsy Patients

Epileptologists and neurosurgeons at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, are using a high-tech brain mapping tool called MEG to diagnose and treat epilepsy and brain tumors.
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doctors gathered around a computer viewing an MEG brain map
Brain specialists at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, are using MEG to diagnose and treat epilepsy and brain tumors. // Courtesy of Beaumont Health

Epileptologists and neurosurgeons at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, are using a high-tech brain mapping tool called MEG to diagnose and treat epilepsy and brain tumors.

MEG, short for magnetoencephalography, is a noninvasive technique that measures and produces images of brain activity and function. It is used in diagnosing and pre-surgical planning for patients with epilepsy and brain tumors.

MEG uses superconducting quantum interference device sensors to measure the weak magnetic fields generated by neurons in the brain. For those with epilepsy, a MEG scan can precisely pinpoint where their seizures occur with millimeter accuracy.

“It’s a more comprehensive way of looking at the brain,” says Dr. Andrew Zillgitt, director of Beaumont’s Level 4 Adult Epilepsy program and director of its MEG program. “As medical technology continues to evolve, our new MEG system is another critical tool for diagnosing and treating epilepsy. MEG provides us more information, helping us decide whether surgery is a viable option and, if so, how to do the surgery in the safest manner possible for each individual patient.”

Dr. Daniel Arndt, chief of pediatric neurology and director of the hospital’s Pediatric Epilepsy Program, added, “We’re pleased to be one of only three health systems in Michigan with MEG technology. This is huge for our patients and enhances the capabilities of our Level 4 pediatric epilepsy program.”

Zillgitt says: “It’s not new technology, but it is underutilized and still not widely available. There have been a lot of developments in MEG technology the past 20 years. Today’s systems are more advanced with user-friendly software.”

Beaumont’s MEG system, by Ricoh, is the first such system installed by the manufacturer in the U.S. Ricoh’s MEG technology originated in Japan.

“We can learn so much about a patient’s brain activity, specifically where motor, hearing, vision, sensory and language functions are located, all without surgery,” Arndt says. “Its ability to localize the origin of seizures helps us plan the placement of depth electrodes in the brain using ROSA robot technology in stereo-EEG evaluations for pediatric and adult epilepsy surgery candidates.

“From a parent’s or child’s perspective, the experience of getting a MEG scan is quiet, and unlike with MRIs, you’re not enclosed or confined, but out in the open. Importantly, just like MRI, the MEG is magnet-based technology, so there is no radiation exposure.”

Ongoing research with MEG involves other neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, autism, PTSD, depression, traumatic brain injury, and ADHD.

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