Comer Children's Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital bring renown pediatric epilepsy care to suburbs

Comer Children's Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital bring renown pediatric epilepsy care to suburbs

April 1, 2009

A partnership between the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital and Adventist Hinsdale Hospital is making it possible for children and teenagers from the suburbs who have epilepsy to stay close to home and be monitored by top national experts.

The program's first patient, 9-year-old Emma of Plainfield, Ill., didn't have to travel far to undergo monitoring for epileptic seizures at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. The hospital recently opened a long-term epilepsy monitoring unit dedicated to pediatric patients. Staffed by pediatric nurses and pediatric physician specialists, the unit brings experts together from both hospitals who diagnose and treat some of the most challenging epilepsy cases.

"A service such as Adventist and the University of Chicago Medical Center's new pediatric monitoring unit is going to go a long way toward increasing the epilepsy care options for the suburban families we serve," said Debbie Goss, president/CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago.

Patients are monitored at Adventist Hinsdale and their data is transmitted real time to pediatric epileptologists at Comer Children's Hospital, including Michael Kohrman, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and neurology, and Abdul Mazin, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, both nationally recognized epilepsy experts.

"We are able to view the electrical activity of the brain as well as a video and sound recording. These are invaluable tools that let us identify the exact cause of the seizures and the best possible treatment," Kohrman said. "For a lot of parents, it's a relief not to have to travel far to get this level of monitoring."

As one of the country's top epilepsy centers, the University of Chicago Pediatric Epilepsy Center is developing new treatments for epilepsy on many fronts. The University of Chicago Medical Center team conducts clinical trials of promising anticonvulsant drugs, in addition to studying the molecular mechanism responsible for initiating seizures, the genetics of epilepsy, and methods to improve surgical outcomes for patients.

Being a leader in epilepsy research means that University of Chicago physicians have early access to new medications and management techniques.

During overnight stays, patients are monitored using electroencephalography (EEG) technology. The non-invasive method uses multiple electrodes attached to the scalp to record the brain's electrical activity.

At age 4, Emma was diagnosed with "absence" epilepsy. Absence seizures, also known as petit mal seizures, cause a short loss of consciousness--just a few seconds--with few other symptoms. Typically, the condition causes patients to interrupt an activity and stare blankly. At first, Emma experienced three to four dozen episodes daily, but medication helped her become symptom-free.

She undergoes overnight EEGs annually to monitor her condition. Her most recent EEG at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital showed no epileptic activity in her brain, and she is now being weaned off of anti-seizure medication.

Emma's mother, Cristina King, recalled, "When we came in, Emma felt like a rock star. The whole staff in the pediatric unit was so excited, which made her enthusiastic. Being so close to home was a blessing for our family."

"This collaboration with the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital confirms our commitment to providing university-level care to patients in their own backyard," said David L. Crane, chief executive officer of Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. "We are proud to offer these advanced neuroscience resources to the community."

The Hinsdale Hospital Foundation invested $150,000 in the program: the funds were used to purchase the monitoring equipment housed at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. Identical equipment is housed at Comer Children's Hospital.

About the University of Chicago Medical Center
The University of Chicago Medical Center, established in 1927, is one of the nation's leading academic medical institutions. It consists of the renowned Pritzker School of Medicine; Bernard Mitchell Hospital, the primary adult patient care facility; Comer Children's Hospital, devoted to the medical needs of children; Chicago Lying-in Hospital, a maternity and women's hospital; and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art ambulatory-care facility with the full spectrum of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment functions. Care is provided by more than 700 attending physicians--most of whom are full-time University faculty members--620 residents and fellows, more than 1,000 nurses and 9,500 employees.

The Medical Center is consistently recognized as a leading provider of complex medical care. It is the only Illinois hospital ever to make the U.S.News & World Report Honor Roll, with eight clinical specialties--digestive disorders; cancer; endocrinology; neurology and neurosurgery; heart and heart surgery; kidney disease; geriatrics; and ear, nose and throat--ranked among the top 30 programs nationwide. The Medical Center was awarded Magnet status in 2007, the highest level of recognition for nursing care.

About Adventist Midwest Health
Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit