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Regions Stroke and Neuroscience Hospital, Owerri - Imo State Nigeria introduces Vagus Nerve Stimulation program for intractable epilepsy.
Regions Stroke and Neuroscience Hospital located in Owerri, Imo State today began it’s Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) program for epilepsy patients in with intractable seizures.
This is a major boost to curtailing medical tourism in Nigeria.
Before now, patients with intractable seizures in Nigeria did not have much options apart from medications only.
Vagus Nerve stimulator (VNS) is a surgically implanted device, that connects to the vagus nerve, which is one of the cranial nerves arising from the brain. When activated it delivers electrical impulses to the vagus nerve, which can help abort a seizure. It is used as an add-on treatment for certain types of intractable epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression. Intractable epilepsy is described as seizures that do not respond to 2 or more anti-seizure medications with appropriate dosage.
Despite the VNS implant being available in developed countries for decades, the challenge with introducing it to Nigeria was the unavailability of the generator “wand” which is needed to interrogate and program the VNS generator periodically, as well as the technical know-how.
Patients implanted with the VNS device typically require the generator to be programmed and interrogated several times a year; meaning that they have to travel to Europe and North America several times a year before now. Also, if there is a need to turn it off as may arise during an unexpected malfunction or need to undergo MRI, such a patient will need to travel out of the country to do so. With the launching of the VNS program at Regions Comprehensive Epilepsy Center Nigerians and patients from neighboring countries can now receive this additional but highly needed treatment locally.
Now that the interrogation device and wand is available in Nigeria, the hospital is in talks with the manufacturers of the device to have local neurosurgeons implant them in Nigeria.
Regions Stroke and Neuroscience Hospital posses one of the most comprehensive epilepsy programs in the country, complete with a fully equipped epilepsy monitoring unit, VideoEEG program and a Neuroscience Intensive Care unit, with support from US trained epilepsy specialists and Neurointensivists.
The VNS generator programming was performed by a Nigerian neurologist Dr. Nkeiru Chinedu-Anunaso, who is a consultant neurologist and Fellow of the West African College of Physicians (FWCP) under the direct supervision of Dr. Chinekwu Anyanwu a neurologist and epilepsy specialist in the USA through telemedicine. Dr. Anyanwu is the head of the EEG program at Virginia Tech University School of Medicine, Roanoke Virginia and supervises the epilepsy program at the Regions Comprehensive Epilepsy Center.