SAN FRANCISCO - For seven-year-old Molly Britt, nothing beats an ice cream sundae, especially when a cherry is on top. They are the kind of moments her parents weren't sure they would ever be able to have with Molly. She was born with tuberous sclerosis.
"It's a rare genetic disorder where benign tubers can be found throughout the major organs of the body," said Bridget Britt, Molly's mom.
"All they do is disrupt some of the normal networks of the brain, explained Dr. Gerald Grant, the chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Stanford Children's Health.
"I think at about two or three months old, we started noticing Molly making some strange movements," Jeremy Britt, Molly's father, recalled.
"She started developing what we learned were seizures," Bridget continued.
"It becomes challenging to figure out which tuber is the one that is causing the seizures," Grant described.
Without opening up Molly's skull or shaving her entire head, doctors made one-millimeter holes in her scalp. They used something called ROSA.
"ROSA is a robotic tool that allows us to precisely and more efficiently target deep areas of the brain," Grant said. "We opened up the bone to get into the brain and place large electrodes on the surface of the brain to try to figure out where the seizures were coming from."
Doctors were able to quickly pinpoint the source of the seizures for surgery later.
"Then, they reopen and then go back and actually extract that portion of the brain tissue," Jeremy clarified. "Within a matter of weeks, we were seeing huge changes."
"It has been just miraculous," Bridget shared.
It takes doctors approximately a week to gather the data they need from the electrodes. After that, the patient can return home. The method is used on both children and adult patients when medicine fails to stop their seizures.
Other hospitals using ROSA include Children's Hospital Colorado, Oregon Health and Science University, Seattle Children's Hospital, and the University of Pittsburgh.