Sunday March 26, 2023

First-ever surgeries to treat epilepsy done in Pakistan

By Ali Raza
February 20, 2021

LAHORE: To treat chronic epilepsy, Vagus Nerve Stimulators (VNS) are implanted in two female patients for the first time in the country successfully.

Both the surgeries were performed by Dr Asif Bashir, who is the Professor & Head Neurosurgery Unit PGMI/Ameer-ud-Din Medical College, Punjab Institute of Neurosciences (PINS) Lahore General Hospital and owner of Bashir NeuroSpine Institute (BNI) situated on Jail road in the provincial metropolis. Dr Asif Bashir is also associated with JFK Neurosciences Institute, New Jersey, USA.

Dr Asif Bashir performed both the surgeries at Bashir NeuroSpine Institute on the night of last Thursday. Both the female patients were in good health and released from the hospital after 3 to 4 hours of the surgeries.

The patient Maryum is seven years old and belonged to Peshawar while the other patient 18 years old Aneesha Naresh is from Karachi. Both the patients were suffering from chronic epilepsy, which is called drug-resistant epilepsy or refractory epilepsy.

Dr Asif Bashir while talking with media said that Vagus Nerve Stimulation prevents seizures by sending regular, mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve. He said in this type of surgery, a stimulator which may be called as the pacemaker for the brain was implanted under the skin in the chest of the patient while a wire from the device is wound around the vagus nerve in the neck. He said the entire procedure took around one to one and a half hour and after 3 to 4 hours of the surgery the patient can go home walking.

He said this treatment was used across the world to treat focal or partial seizures that do not respond to seizure medications but here in Pakistan this treatment was not available before. He added that after VNS treatment the ratio of seizers in patients reduced to 50 per cent or will end completely.

Further giving details of the treatment, Dr Asif Bashir said Vagus Nerve stimulation (VNS) is a type of neuromodulation. It is designed to change how brain cells work by giving electrical stimulation to certain areas involved in seizures.

Dr. Asif Bashir has also introduced “Keyhole Minimally Invasive MicroEndoscopic MED Spine Surgery” for the first time in Pakistan enabling patients to go home walking same day 2-3 hours after surgery just like it is done in the US.

Talking about the cost of each VNS surgery, Dr Asif said that it cost around Rs 2.5 million, which is the cheapest in the world. He said the batteries of implanted devices can be replaced after 5 or 6 years and incase of a rechargeable device the cost went up to over Rs 4.5 million/surgery.

“The real reason behind the high cost of this treatment is the cost of the stimulator and its other components,” he said and requested the government to end duties and taxes on the import of medical equipment to bring down the cost of treatment.

He said the present government’s Insaf Health Card initiative is a very good step to provide cheap medical treatment to the masses but this system too didn’t support the patients who wanted to go for VNS treatment due to its heavy cost.

He said he along with some other doctors has established a charity organization under which VNS and other costly treatment will be given to deserving citizens. He appealed the philanthropists and donors to help the organization for treatment of poor patients.

Nadeem, the father of 7 years old maryum while talking with media said that for the past several years his daughter was having multiple seizers a day. He said he went to almost every big name in the country for treatment of his daughter but in vain. He said then a friend of him recommended him to contact Dr Asif Bashir at BNI, which he did and today his daughter was operated.

Answering a question about the cost of treatment, he said he can’t afford the cost but he managed in collecting funds for this surgery. He said a renowned hospital in Karachi was demanding Rs 4.5 million for the same treatment, which BNI did in Rs 2.5 million. He also appealed the government to take positive steps in bringing down the cost of treatment so that the poor citizens could also have this expensive treatment.

Talking about Bashir NeuroSpine Institute (BNI), Dr Asif Bashir said his father Dr Bashir Ahmed (late) established BNI in 1964 and since then the institution is providing state of the art treatment for all Neuro & Spine related problems. “We have the most advanced radiology services including world renowned American boarded medical consultants,” he maintained.

BNI has excelled in providing Neuro and Spine Surgery and presently the institution is providing DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation), Endoscopic & Microscopic Brain Surgery, Endoscopic Pituitary tumor & Eyebrow keyhole Brain surgery, Microscopic & EndoScopic Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery, Endoscopic Spine Tumors, Laser Spine Surgery, Lumbar MicroEndoscopic Discectomy, Artificial Disc Replacement, Minimally Invasive TLIF, Total Disc Replacement, Third Ventriculostomy For Hydrocephalus, Spine Slipped Disc Surgery, Pediatric Neurosurgery, Pituitary Adenoma Tumor, Pediatric and Adult Shunt procedures and Gamma knife Radiosurgery.

In Neurology and Stroke Management, the BNI is providing best neurology services including all neurological diseases like stroke, epilepsy, headache, coma, neuropathies, myopathies, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, brain and spinal injuries, tumors and more.

In the field of Orthopedic Surgery, the BNI is considered Lahore’s one of the top hospitals with doctors having UK based certifications and experience from different hospitals all over the world. The BNI treats all orthopedic related issues such as acute injuries, congenital and acquired disorders and chronic arthritic or overuse conditions of the bones, joints and their associated soft tissues, including ligaments, nerves and muscles, joint replacements and more, Dr Asif Bashir said.