Lisbon, 26 February 2008 A presentation is being made today at Egas Moniz Hospital, Lisbon, of a Paediatric Epilepsy Remote Monitoring System developed by neurologists and paediatricians at the Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Ocidental (West Lisbon Hospital Centre) (CLHO) and the Vodafone Portugal Foundation to increase the number and success rate of surgical procedures in children with epilepsy.
Epilepsy affects five in every thousand people, for many of whom medication is not an adequate solution. In these cases, surgery is sometimes necessary to remove the parts of the brain that are responsible for their seizures. In connection with that procedure, extremely rigorous examinations are made to detect those areas with precision. During these examinations it is often necessary to suspend medication, wholly or partially, which can give rise to the occurrence of seizures. For this reason it is necessary for the child to be hospitalised in a paediatric environment with experience of monitoring epileptic seizures and it is necessary to analyse the EEG traces rapidly to minimise the duration of the examination and the risk period.
With the introduction of this new Paediatric Epilepsy Remote Monitoring System, thanks to the use of mobile communications and the implementation of a specially developed software application, physicians can remotely observe these examinations (V-EEG or video electroencephalogram) on a computer or PDA at any time, even outside the hospital environment. In other words, they can in effect make these observations on the move, from any part of the country or abroad, and interact with the system via the specially developed software application. The speed of this new process of analysing traces and seizures by the EEG specialist facilitates early, better informed decision-making which optimises the duration and conditions of the diagnosis and, therefore, the childs safety and comfort.
By putting mobile technology at the service of the treatment of epilepsy, the Paediatric Epilepsy Remote Monitoring System increases physicians availability to monitor the neurophysiological examinations and the number of patients monitored. This system could contribute to an increase in surgical interventions, especially in very young children. Early surgery minimises the risk to psychomotor development of uncontrolled epilepsy or the prolonged use of anti-epileptic medication.
A computer platform has been created to make it possible to select images of the EEG trace and the epileptic seizure and send them via the Internet to the neurophysiologist, who has been alerted in advance by SMS or a telephone call. These images are then studied on a PC or PDA, enabling diagnosis to be made with interruption of the examination or the continuation of monitoring until the situation has been completely defined. In addition to receiving the EEG trace at any time and in complete mobility, the system enables the physician to operate the received signal in order to optimise observation.
Additionally, the system does not confine children to bed during the hospital stay thanks to the use of wireless communications. Up to now, these examinations have usually been performed and transmitted by a system of electrodes fixed to patients heads and linked by a system of fixed cables to transmit the EEG signal.
The introduction of this safer, more efficient and more economical technology will have a positive impact on better control of the complex problem of refractory epilepsy (epilepsy resistant to medical treatment) and on the acquisition of expertise in this area, with increasingly timely, precise and effective interventions.
Two hospitals of the CHLO are involved in the initial implementation phase of the project: S. Francisco Xavier Hospital and Egas Moniz Hospital. The area of operation is not, however, limited to these hospitals since, as has already been remarked, the mobile technology developed by the Vodafone Portugal Foundation enables physicians to observe the V-EEG outside the hospital environment, at any time and anywhere.
This project is a partnership between the CHLO and the Vodafone Portugal Foundation, which developed the computer platform and the mobile communications system, and which has covered all the financial costs involved in the purchase of equipment and for operating the system for one year.