As the First of its kind in Nigeria, Regions Stroke and Neuroscience Hospital Mgbirichi in Ohaji Egbema council area of Imo State has introduced Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) program as a vital treatment of patients suffering from intractable epilepsy and other seizure sickness as the medical program in yester years can only be done in North 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 despiteVagus 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 know how.
The medical expert further said that “Patients implanted with the VNS device typically require the generator to be programme and interrogate 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 them in Nigeria.
He boasted that the hospital possess one of the most comprehensive epilepsy programs monitoring unit, video EEG program and a Neuroscience intensive care unit, with supports from United States of America trained epilepsy specialists and Neuro intensivists.