Babies born with the rare condition hemimegalencephaly often experience uncontrollable seizures that gradually injure their brain and disrupt their ability to function. This brain malformation occurs usually as a spontaneous problem very early in brain development (the condition is not inherited). With high-quality brain MRIs, we are able to thoroughly evaluate the degree of brain malformation causing these seizures and intervene to help children with this condition.
Hope For a Brighter Future
Hemimegalencephaly occurs in just a handful of children worldwide each year. Until recently, families had few treatment options, all of which involved major brain surgery to remove the part of the brain causing the seizures.
But doctors at Children’s National Hospital have developed a successful alternative to major brain surgery for infants less than 3 months of age – making precise, controlled strokes in your baby’s brain that mimic surgery to stop the seizures. The late Taeun Chang, M.D., former director of the Neonatal Neurology and Neonatal Neurocritical Care Program, and Monica Pearl, M.D., director of the Neurointerventional Radiology Program, developed the stroke-inducing procedure several years ago.
Through our multidisciplinary team of neonatal neurologists, neurointerventional radiologists, neonatologists, neurosurgeons and our Level IV Pediatric Epilepsy Center, we can provide this minimally-invasive option to stop your baby from having seizures if they are less than 3 months of age and are experiencing seizures that do not stop with seizure medications. The procedure has been successful in several patients at Children's National, including Bella, a little girl who recently celebrated two years of seizure freedom after our groundbreaking treatment.
We are the only program in the world offering this unique treatment option.
Care for Older Infants and Children
For children older than three months with hemimegalencephaly, parents should contact our Comprehensive Pediatric Epilepsy Program to learn about other available options that our Level IV Pediatric Epilepsy Center can provide. Its team provides advanced surgical options including functional and anatomic hemispherectomy.
For healthcare providers
Our Treatment Approach
We invite healthcare providers to learn more about our innovative approach to treatment in our published article with information about how we managed two neonates with hemimegalencephaly (HME) and intractable seizures. Providers may also find it helpful to review our research poster detailing our experience with five newborns with HME who underwent staged targeted transarterial embolization.