Polk County Residents Gain Access to Latest Seizure Diagnosis Video Technology
Des Moines, November 24, 2008 – Newly acquired state-of-the-art technology at Broadlawns Medical Center allows patients who suffer from spells and seizures to better understand the causes. The new XLTEK video-electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring technology offers more precise classification of episodes allowing patients greater success in leading a normal life.
“This equipment allows us to accurately monitor patients who are suffering from frequent episodes of spells. Spells may include confusion, incontinence, passing out or shaking,” explained Wendy Waldman, M.D., a staff neurologist and epileptologist at Broadlawns. “This new equipment uses the latest technology to diagnose the cause of the episodes, and we learn exactly what we are dealing with. In this way, we are better able to determine the most appropriate treatment for the patient and move the patient toward freedom from these episodes.”
The acquisition of this equipment at Broadlawns means that a significant segment of the Polk County population who would not have had access to this level of monitoring and diagnosis now benefit from the best diagnostic equipment available. “This is the same equipment you’d find at the other large hospitals in Des Moines,” said Waldman. “Except ours is newer.”
It is estimated that one percent of the American population suffers from epilepsy. Often called the “disease of the young,” approximately a quarter of patients with epilepsy are elderly. The spells are often misdiagnosed as dementia or cardiac-related problems.
The video-EEG detects undiagnosed seizures in up to 20 percent of the patients monitored. Waldman has found that in practice, many of those who have been diagnosed with epilepsy often turn out to be experiencing spells caused by other problems, such as stress spells or pseudoseizures, migraines, syncope or metabolic disturbance. With a more accurate diagnosis, Waldman can prescribe more appropriate medications or determine a specific focus for surgical treatment.
Depending on the frequency of the episodes, the patient may be admitted to the hospital for as little as 24 hours or up to five days. Two days is the typical stay in Waldman’s experience.
The equipment consists of a base unit of electrodes that are attached to the patient’s head to monitor brain wave activity. A video camera records the patient’s physical activity. Patients can have spells during sleep that would go unnoticed at home, but the EEG captures the spike in brain wave activity. The data are saved electronically through a program that detects and flags events, and the medical staff can analyze the recordings.
The device allows enough mobility for the patient to have normal activity during the monitoring. Cables extend ten to twelve feet, and the video camera does not follow the patient into the bathroom.
Waldman also points to the significant cost savings that are inherent in this newer equipment. Faster, more accurate diagnoses will reduce the number of visits to the emergency department, eliminate the trial-and-error period of inappropriate medications that are prescribed due to misdiagnosis, and move the patient back to a normal productive lifestyle more quickly.
About Broadlawns Medical Center
With a history that reaches back to 1903 as a community health center, Broadlawns Medical Center first opened its doors as a hospital to the residents of Polk County on April 13, 1924. Over the years, Broadlawns has adapted to the changing demands of public health care, yet remained true to its mission of offering quality health services to all Polk County residents and training tomorrow’s health care professionals.
Today, Broadlawns Medical Center meets the needs of its mission as it opens new clinics, expands its services and improves its facilities. Broadlawns encompasses:
- An acute care community hospital serving medical, surgical, mental health and primary care needs, including pediatrics and women’s health care.
- A 60-member physician practice overseeing numerous specialty clinics and outpatient services.
- A family medicine residency program that graduates physician leaders who today serve throughout Iowa and across the nation.
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