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Getting Down to Cases: McKhann Teaches Neurosurgeons About Epilepsy Treatment

When it comes to epilepsy treatment, the idea that “one size fits all” couldn’t be further from the truth.

As Director of Epilepsy and Movement Disorder Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Guy McKhann has treated hundreds of patients, and each one has a different story.

For example, there’s Madison (read her story here). Madison’s seizures started when she was 6 years old.

Her family tried everything to help her, but over the course of more than a decade, her seizures slowly got worse. Eventually Madison couldn’t make it through a school day without a seizure, and she had to be taught at home.

Finally, with advancements in medicine, Dr. McKhann was able to perform that surgery, and it stopped Madison’s seizures. Afterward, she not only returned to school, she enrolled in college.

Madison’s story is one among many that gets Dr. McKhann excited about his work—and also helps him train other neurosurgeons.

At a meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Dr. McKhann led a new course called “Epilepsy: Current and Emerging Treatment Strategies.” He set up the course in such a way that the neurosurgeons in attendance could first learn about the latest treatment approaches and techniques, then put their new knowledge to work discussing specific cases presented to them by the faculty.

In Dr. McKhann’s course, specific cases weren’t identified by name or other identifying details. Nobody knew whether the patients dreamed of finishing high school, driving a car or even (like Madison) skydiving.

Instead, Dr. McKhann and his faculty helped the neurosurgeons discuss questions such as “Given this patient’s seizure location, what are the risks and benefits of operating?” or “What is the best way to approach treatment, given the patient’s age, seizure type and severity?” or “Should this case of epilepsy be monitored surgically or non-surgically?”

The surgeons were able to use what they’d just learned as they delved into each case.

Discussing treatment options in this format helps neurosurgeons get familiar with new information in the most practical way, and the experience of “getting down to cases” during the course can carry over to each attendee”s work with her own patients.

Dr. McKhann’s years of specialized training have given him excellent preparation for evaluating a variety of cases, making the best treatment decisions, performing skilled surgery—and training other neurosurgeons to do the same.

But it’s each individual patient, like Madison, who gives that training its real meaning.

Learn more about Dr. McKhann on his bio page here.

patient journey

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