The possibility of brain surgery is a daunting thought for someone to wrap their head around at any age. It can be even more unnerving when the patient is a young child.
But that is the prospect the family of Jack Frazier faced when it was recommended he have brain surgery to help with his severe seizures that began following a stroke just after birth.
His seizures were only slightly alleviated with aggressive medications that caused serious side effects, but they still always returned. Jack’s development, and demeanor, was also troubling during his early years. He was missing important milestones for a child his age and was non-verbal, angry, and easily agitated.
Everything changed though when he came under the care of Child Neurology Consultants of Austin’s board-certified pediatric neurologist and neurophysiologist Dr. Karen Keough. Various anti-seizure medications helped to control his seizures, but aggravated mood and behavior issues, and low-THC cannabidiol oil only partially alleviated them. Ultimately, Dr Keough recommended brain surgery to address the area that was causing the seizures to offer the most effective option for a better quality of life.
Jack was then just shy of three years old, among the youngest patients that Dr. Keough has referred for brain surgery. She based her recommendation on the fact that surgery offered the highest chance for seizure control, with less behavioral side effects.
Because the severe abnormalities on his EEG were only on one side, there was a high likelihood that he might have developmental and behavioral benefits when the healthy side of his brain was given relief from his seizures, and that’s what happened.
In December of 2021, Jack underwent a hemispherotomy where the damaged part of the brain, due to his stroke, was surgically disconnected from the healthy part.
His parents rejoiced at the outcome saying that just “one month after surgery, he was like a new child!”
He is now seizure-free and off all his medications.
Jack’s mother, Katy, shares that the “biggest blessing was coming off his medications after surgery because they affected his cognitive development. He is now learning, speaking, playing with his sister, and engaging with others, and there has been a complete positive change in his behavior.”
Dr. Keough says “I couldn’t be happier for Jack and his parents; this is everything we hoped for from his surgery!”
Although a hemispherotomy is a very rare surgery, it is often life-changing for patients who meet the criteria and have tried everything else.
For other families faced with the decision of brain surgery for their child, Katy offers the following advice:
- Ask yourself what you want the end result to be for your child.
- Are you more scared of what might happen to him or her in the future if you do not do the surgery?
- Consider your options and decide sooner rather than later so that they can continue to develop and adapt.
- Find a helpful support group to lean on made up of others who have had similar diagnoses.
Regarding local support groups, Dr. Keough suggests that the Epilepsy Foundation of Central and South Texas is a great resource.
More information about our Epilepsy Program can be found here.
At Pediatrix Child Neurology Consultants of Austin, our priority is providing patients and their families the most convenient, comfortable, and positive experience while receiving expert care from highly experienced neurologists and epileptologists. To make an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists, please contact us here.