Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Home test to diagnose epilepsy is pioneered by London hospital

A London hospital is the first in Britain to pioneer home testing for epilepsy patients.

The brain-scanning service rolled out by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will benefit hundreds of people who suffer devastating seizures, and improve treatment.

Home monitoring allows patients to carry on with daily life without the disruption of days in hospital — it is also thought to be a more accurate method.

The service is called Home Video Telemetry and the patient wears a special head device fitted with electrodes which records brain activity over several days.

A video camera also captures the physical seizures. A technician visits the patient’s home and collects the data on a daily basis which is analysed by a consultant. Epilepsy affects about 600,000 people in the UK including more than 60,000 children. The condition affects the brain and causes multiple seizure attacks in severe cases. Brain scanning is crucial for doctors to diagnose patients with suspected epilepsy correctly and provide them with tailored treatment.

Hospital checks have been the gold standard until now for those who suffer multiple attacks. However, other NHS trusts are now expected to adopt home testing following the success of pilots by King’s. It comes as new research reveals that testing epilepsy patients in hospital may produce biased results. Dr Franz Brunnhuber at King’s has carried out work revealing that people are about half as likely to experience seizures in hospital than at home.

The consultant clinical neurophysiologist said this can make it difficult for doctors to determine the exact nature of a patient’s condition.

He added: “Misdiagnosis is a major problem with epilepsy because there are lots of conditions which mimic the disorder so it’s crucial to capture seizure attacks accurately. The home service is more convenient for patients. Hospital is a huge stress factor for them. Home testing means patients can lead a normal life.”

Read article here.

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