Published on November 15, 2017

Shannon Resident First in State to Get New Device for Seizures

TUPELO, Miss.—Maggie Bushway of Shannon recently became the first person in Mississippi to receive a new device for treating patients with drug-resistant epilepsy.

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Oct. 9, LivaNova’s latest Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy® System, consists of the SenTiva™ implantable generator and the next-generation VNS Therapy Programming System. Together, these components use smart technology to reduce the number of seizures and lessen their duration.

Bushway, a 21-year-old junior broadcast journalism major at the University of Mississippi, was only 7 years old when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. “She started having seizures, but we didn’t realize it was a seizure. We had no idea there were so many different types of seizures,” said her mother, Kathi. “When she had a seizure, it was like an anxiety attack or like she was overcome with fear. It wasn’t until she had a seizure in front of a doctor that they were able to diagnose the seizure, and that led to finding the brain tumor.”

Bushway underwent her first brain surgery in 2003, followed by chemotherapy and a second surgery in 2004, and two more surgeries in 2006. In 2008, she had a vagus nerve stimulator implanted. The device, sometimes referred to as a “pacemaker for the brain,” is placed under the skin on the chest wall and connected by wire to the vagus nerve in the neck. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS Therapy®) helps prevent seizures by sending regular, mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve.

“It worked well to control her seizures,” her mother said. “Before, her doctors had to take some pretty drastic measures when she had seizures, including inducing coma. Since 2008, she has not had to be in the hospital.”

After graduating high school, Bushway attended Itawamba Community College part-time for four years. In August, she enrolled at Ole Miss and moved to the Oxford campus.

Neurologist Mark Fletcher, M.D., suggested it was time to look at replacing her nineyear-old vagus nerve stimulator and referred her to neurosurgeon Louis Rosa, M.D.

Fortunately, vagus nerve stimulator technology has made great strides in recent years. “As these devices evolve, features are added,” explained Dr. Rosa, who implanted her new SenTiva device at NMMC on Nov. 2.

SenTiva is the first device of its size to include detect-and-respond mode, designed to prevent seizures before they start and automatically deliver extra therapy to stop them. SenTiva also collects and logs events commonly associated with seizures, including a person’s body position and heart rate variations.

“Maggie has more seizures at night,” he said. “The new device allows for customized programming, so we can actually ramp up the device at night so she gets a higher dose then. The older device didn’t give us the ability to tailor it to her.”

One common side effect of vagus nerve stimulation is hoarseness or changes in voice tone, which has been particularly troubling for a broadcast major like Bushway. “When her device would kick in, all of a sudden her voice would change,” Dr. Rosa said. “We have her new device programmed at lower activity during the daytime so that she doesn’t lose her voice.”

For more information about vagus nerve stimulation therapy, call Neurosurgical Services at (662) 377-5700 or 1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375).

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