Relief for Epilepsy patients in Imo state as Vogus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) Programme begins

EVEREST EZIHE writes that patients suffering from intractable epilepsy and other seizure diseases in Nigeria can now have a sigh of relief as Vogus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) programme which is vital to the cure of the patients is now available in Nigeria as against the yester years of being exclusively carried out in America, Europe and Asian Countries.

Dr. Benjamin Anyanwu, an expert in Neuro disease disclosed this in Mgbirichi near Owerri, Imo State while briefing the press about the programme at the conference hall of Regions Stroke and Neuroscience Hospital.

According to Dr. Anyanwu “Regions Stroke and Neuroscience Hospital has begun vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) programme for epilepsy and intractable seizure patients. This is a major boost in curtailing medical tourism abroad by Nigerians, before now, patients with intractable seizures in Nigeria do not have much options apart from medications only” he informed.

The Expert explained that “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” he informed.

He pointed out that despite vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) implant being available in developed countries of the world for over a decade, the challenge for introducing it to Nigeria was the unavailability of the generator “wand” which is seriously needed to interrogate and programme the VNS generator periodically, as well as the technical knowhow.

The medical expert further said that “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, North America or Asia countries several times a year before now for the medical services.

Also, if there is a need to turn it off as may arise during an unexpected malfunction or need to under go MRI, such a patient will need to travel outside the country to do so but with the launching of the VNS programme at Region Comprehensive Epilepsy Centre, Nigerians and patients from neighbouring countries can now receive this additional but highly needed treatment locally” he assured.

Dr. Anyanwu also revealed that now that the interrogation devices and wand is available in Nigeria, that the hospital is in discussion with the manufacturers of the device to have local neurosurgeons implant in Nigeria.

He informed that the hospital possess one of the most comprehensive epilepsy programs monitoring unit, video RRG program and a Neuroscience intensive care unit, with supports from United States of America trained epilepsy specialists and Neuro intensivists.

The Medical icon further disclosed that the VNS generator programming was performed by a Nigerian Neurologist Dr. Nkeiru Chinedu Anunaso, 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 he said is the Head of EEG program at Virginia Tech University School of Medicine, Roanoke Virginia and supervises the epilepsy programs at the Regions Comprehensive Epilepsy Centre.

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