Teen among first to undergo life-changing epilepsy surgery in Scotland

Angus Bain was diagnosed with the condition aged five and had seizures on a weekly basis.

A teenager from Fife has become one of the first people to undergo life-changing epilepsy surgery in Scotland.

The world-class laser technology at Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, which was previously only available in London and Texas, reduces operating time and scarring.

Angus Bain, 17, was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of five and would have seizures on a weekly basis – now he’s looking forward to living a more independent life.

Nicki Bain, Angus’ mum said: “I think from the independence point of view I think Angus hasn’t had a huge amount of independence because we are too scared actually to let him go anywhere.

“I think the impact has been quite big for him growing up especially latterly, you know children suddenly become independent.”

But now, there’s hope that’s all going to change after Angus become one of the first people to have MRI-guided Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) surgery in Scotland – a minimally invasive treatment which uses a laser to remove the brain tissue that is causing seizures.

Surgeon at Edinburgh Children’s Hospital demonstrating the LITT surgery.

The pioneering new laser technology was brought to Edinburgh thanks to a partnership between the Welch Trust, Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity and NHS Lothian.

The previous surgery choice practised in Scotland was open brain surgery, which lasted seven hours and resulted in an ear-to-ear scar across the top of the child’s head.

The LITT precision technology, now available at Edinburgh Children’s Hospital reduces surgery time to just two hours and is much less invasive and has a shorter recovery time.

Dr Jothy Kandasamy, consultant neurosurgeon at Edinburgh Children’s Hospital performed Angus’ surgery alongside Dr Drahoslav Sokol.

Consultant Neurosurgeon at Edinburgh Children’s Hospital, Jothy Kandasamy.

Jothy said: “It allows us to consider treating patients who otherwise may have had quite invasive, open surgery, but with this tool we now have the option of robotic guided laser surgery.

“There’s a big change in the length of stay which is drastically reduced from about two weeks to one night and patients feels amazing after surgery, they don’t feel they’ve had surgery which is a wonderful thing for children having this procedure as well as adults.”

And for Angus, the treatment has been life-changing. 

Angus (right) with his mum Nicki.

He said: “It’s been a really long journey for me and hopefully I’ll be seizure free for the rest of my life and I’ll be able to do loads more like, maybe one day I’ll be able to start my driving test and I’ll be able to do more things by myself and hopefully that’ll change my life forever.”

Nicki said: “Hopefully he can start living life and enjoying things and not have epilepsy getting in the way. And hopefully he’ll become independent and he’s not going to be having seizures every single week like he did and just have a fulfilling adult life. His whole childhood has been epilepsy so he’s got, not lots to catch up on but he’s lots to look forward to.”

So far, four people have been treated by the LITT surgery in Scotland, with more and more being scheduled in the new year.

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