Computing Science

Brain maps to benefit surgery for epilepsy

August 07, 2013

A brain-imaging research team led by Simon Fraser University neuroscientist Ryan D’Arcy has found a new way to help surgeons more accurately plan for surgical treatment in epilepsy.

The results of a recent study using magnetoencephalography (MEG) have been published in the field's highest impact journal, Human Brain Mapping. To showcase the study, the journal highlighted novel images of a patient’s MEG activity on the August 2013 cover.

D'Arcy and his team used MEG technology to produce detailed spatial maps locating critical language functions in order to improve pre-operative planning for better surgical outcomes.

The journal’s cover image shows the focus of seizure activity—where epileptic electrical “storms” develop—before surgery. It displays critical language activity in colour, with the spectrum of warmer reds to cooler blues showing the relative involvement of the brain’s left and right hemispheres, respectively. In this case, the seizure location was outside of key language areas, enabling surgeons to operate safely. The patient showed a seizure-free outcome.

“When carrying out brain surgery it’s imperative not only to determine where the areas are to treat, but whether the critical regions that carry out higher functions like language and memory will be affected,” says D’Arcy, a professor in SFU’s schools of engineering, and computing science. He also holds the Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation B.C. Leadership Chair in Multimodal Technology for Healthcare Innovation at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

D’Arcy developed brain mapping in Halifax, where he laid the groundwork for the current study. He is now establishing labs at Surrey Memorial Hospital, where he continues this work in MEG in collaboration with Fraser Health.

D’Arcy notes that SFU has been at the forefront of MEG technology for many years and was a pioneer in its development, resulting in the university’s first spinoff company, CTF Systems, nearly 30 years ago.

D’Arcy is also co-leading the creation of Innovation Boulevard—a high-technology health sector being developed in Surrey, where he plans to further advance brain-based technologies like MEG for both the critical care and point-of-care environments.

Story credit/ SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations