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Format: 04/25/2014
Format: 04/25/2014


Allegheny General Hospital Evaluates New Seizure-Detection Technology

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) is the only site in the country testing a potentially groundbreaking seizure-detection system.

Funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke, the initial trial of Optima Neuroscience’s seizure-detection and alert system will include 15 patients in AGH’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Program. The system is designed to be used at the bedside to help health professionals determine when seizure activity is occurring.

The ability to confirm seizures could be especially beneficial in treating patients in intensive care units (ICUs), said Kevin M. Kelly, MD, PhD, Director, Allegheny General Hospital Center for Neuroscience Research. Knowing that seizure activity has occurred could prompt physicians to order medications, imaging tests to check for bleeding on the brain, or other measures that may not be prescribed without evidence of seizures.

“Some seizures don’t manifest as convulsions—a patient could be lying in bed and have an electrical brain seizure with no physical manifestation,” said Dr. Kelly. “This system could serve a great adjunctive role to what you are not able to observe at the bedside.”

In October, Optima Neuroscience received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market its IdentEvent™ software to physicians. Allegheny General was involved in testing of the original software, which uses an algorithm to aid doctors in reviewing electroencephalography (EEG) results.

The software identifies areas of interest for physicians, enabling doctors to quickly navigate through a lengthy recording of brain activity and determine if there has been a surge in electrical activity, or a seizure.

Initial testing showed that IdentEvent™ was sensitive enough to accurately detect seizures while eliminating many “false positives.” In lengthy EEG recordings, such as those used in the diagnosis or development of treatment plans for epilepsy, muscle movements such as chewing and even eye blinking can be reflected as suspicious brain activity.

Neurologists with special training in interpreting EEGs spend significant time with the technically challenging task of filtering out these distractions and pinpointing true seizure activity.

“We’re taking that same core technology and putting it into a monitor that lets bedside hospital staff without extensive training in reading EEGs know immediately when there is a critical change in brain function,” said Ryan Kern, MD, President, Optima Neuroscience.

As pulse oximeters revolutionized the monitoring of lung function, Optima’s products aim to equip non-specialist care providers in hospital ICUs and Emergency Departments to rapidly and accurately obtain critical information about the status of the brain.

“Research suggests that as many as 10 to 20 percent of ICU patients have some degree of seizures and we hope to broaden the utility of EEG by helping to automate the analysis process,” Dr. Kern said.

A broader, multi-center clinical trial of Optima’s seizure monitoring and alert system is scheduled for next year and Optima Neuroscience hopes to bring the product to market in 18 months.

Established in 1987, AGH’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Program is a member of the National Association of Epilepsy Centers and designated a Level 4 Epilepsy Center. With this unique resource, Allegheny General has become one of the largest regional and international referral centers for epilepsy services.

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