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Health Beat: Epilepsy: 80 seizures a day to none

CLEVELAND - Ravi Stewart, 19, has battled epilepsy for most of his life. In high school, he had up to 80 seizures every single day.

"Having people know about it, I was definitely bullied for most of it. It definitely made it hard to go to school and stay caught up," Stewart recalled.

Stewart took four different medications, but none controlled his seizures, and he wasn't a candidate for surgery because doctors couldn't locate the problem spot in his brain.

"No matter how hard everyone tried, the seizures continued relentlessly," said Dr. Elaine Wyllie, a neurologist and epilepsy specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.

That's when Stewart enrolled in a research protocol at the Cleveland Clinic. Doctors used a brand-new MRI machine, called 7 Tesla, to look inside his brain. It allows them to get at a deeper level inside the cells. With the device, they located the faulty area that was causing Stewart's seizures, the one other doctors couldn't find.

"The abnormality became clear," Wyllie added.

Stewart then had surgery to remove the lesion. Surgeons precisely targeted the area in his brain without harming nearby regions that control language.

A year later, Stewart is seizure-free.

"It's a whole new life. It's a whole new person. I didn't know this person existed behind the Ravi that we knew," said his mother, Sangeeta Lakhani.

"Things are definitely better," Stewart added. "I definitely feel happier."

And now he has the life he always wanted. One without seizures.

There are only a handful of 7 Tesla MRI machines in the world. Cleveland Clinic researchers are currently investigating how the scanner works for epilepsy. Preliminary results show 7 Tesla images enhance previous findings in nearly half of epilepsy patients imaged.


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