A British teenager has become the first child in the UK to be cured of epilepsy by a robot that drilled deep into his brain.
Billy Whitaker, 15, had had epileptic seizures every day for seven years before he was admitted to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.
The procedure used a £350,000 robot, practically the same as those used on car factory production lines, to drill electrodes into Whitaker’s brain.
The electrodes then pinpointed the epicenter of his debilitating attacks with accuracy for the first time, enabling surgeons to remove the tiny piece of brain causing the seizures.
Since the ground-breaking operation two weeks ago Billy has not had a fit and medics are confident he has been cured for good.
Consultant neurosurgeon Michael Carter said: ‘There were little part of his brain we suspected were the candidates for causing these residual seizures.
‘We used the robot to implant a series of electrodes using ultra-high, sub-millimetre precision, into these small areas of the brain, in order to see if his seizures were coming from them.
‘In fact we located the area absolutely beautifully using one of the electrodes and on the strength of that we took him back to theatre a week later and we removed the area of brain tissue that was defined by the examination.
‘We can use the robot to define extremely safe and high precision trajectories through the brain tissue, so that we can implant a number of electrodes through tiny little holes in the skull, with little stab incisions, directly into the areas we want.