Australia's first SEEG International Conference

16/10/2019 12:30:55 PM

Australia's first SEEG International Conference

Australia’s first Stereotactic Electroencephalogram (SEEG) international conference has begun in Brisbane, bringing together the world’s leading epilepsy practitioners to discuss the management and surgical treatment options available for those with drug resistant epilepsy.

The Fundamentals of Stereo-EEG Conference’s three-day workshop developed by clinicians from Mater Neurosciences Centre Brisbane brings together epileptologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroscientists and researchers.

SEEG is an advanced monitoring and diagnostic procedure that involves mapping of the brain and localisation of areas of potential epileptic activity.

In the operating theatre, neurosurgeons, with the assistance and guidance of the neurologist, implant deep brain electrodes through strategically drilled holes in the skull. The electrodes have many contacts that record very small areas of brain tissue for activity, allowing up to 256 channels of activity to be monitored, in comparison to the twenty channels recorded through video EEG.

Mater and Cleveland Clinic Neurologist Professor Patrick Chauvel said the conference was of historical significance for Australia.

“The conference is a manifestation of great hope for patients not only in Queensland but in Australia,” Professor Chauvel said.

“Until recently, epilepsy surgery in Australia used a different treatment method and the new SEEG method means we can investigate the debilitating and disabling seizures.

“There aren’t many teams practising epilepsy surgery in Australia so if the teams come together and exchange information on unique patient cases we can create a national cooperation for epilepsy surgery around the country.

“It’s about collaboration, not competition. We know in order to make good decisions, we need to talk to each other and ask our colleagues ‘what do you think about this case?’- because if you haven’t met a patient like this, one of your colleagues may have,” he said.

Professor Chauvel said by helping each other doctors could find the best solution for their patient which is the most important part.

“Our goal is to increase collaboration not only in epilepsy surgery but in the evaluation of patients and research for the future,” Prof Chauvel said.

“This method of putting electrodes in the brain is something extraordinary–so you must do research at the same time to understand more about what epilepsy is to treat it better and operate safely,” he said. 

Professor Chauvel is proud to have helped the team set up their service in Brisbane.

“The Mater Neurosciences Centre Brisbane has developed the method, research and clinical approach to surgery and is now recognised as an international team,” Prof Chauvel said.

“I continue to supervise, help and develop the team and to see our collaboration and friendship develop into this conference – an international conference, is something we can be proud of,” he said.

Professor Riki Matsumoto currently works as a Neurologist at the Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan’s epilepsy surgery program, and was invited to speak about using stereo EEG to probe brain connectivity to learn more about brain function.

“By injecting a small current into the brain and recording neural responses from stereo-EEG, we can probe how the several parts of the brain work together as a language network when the patient talks to you, or listens to you,” Prof Matsumoto said.

Japan has excellent epilepsy surgery programs although SEEG is not yet National Health Insurance system approved so they use intracranial conventional depth electrodes and subdural electrodes.

“Thanks to research grants, we have performed SEEG on five or six patients and hopefully in 2020 we’ll have everything approved to do more,” Prof Matsumoto said.

“We have lots of patients who would benefit from the new technique because it’s less invasive and less painful for patients than those who have the intracranial electrode implantation which is a major surgery with higher risks."

Prof Matsumoto enjoyed the small style conference which promoted small group discussions and case study workshops.

“Having the opportunity to ask questions and have specific conversations about cases has been really important,” Prof Matsumoto said.

“While I’ve learned more about SEEG from senior practitioners, it’s also been a great networking opportunity to help with my clinical activity and research.

“The conference was a great opportunity to be in Australia and I thank the Mater for helping organise this meeting for us."