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02 February 2016

First paediatric epilepsy patient treated at Bristol Children’s Hospital with robotic stereotactic EEG

The first paediatric patient from the southwest has successfully undergone Robotic Stereotactic implantation of EEG recording electrodes as part of their workup for epilepsy surgery at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.


Billy Whitaker, 15 from Cornwall, became the first paediatric epilepsy case to undergo the procedure at Bristol Children's Hospital on Thursday 14 January.

The robotic stereotactic EEG uses smart technology derived from the engineering world, together with high precision image guidance- to enable surgeons to insert multiple recording electrodes deep into the brain to investigate potential sites of seizure initiation. 

The technique is extremely accurate and safer and better tolerated than alternative invasive methods of achieving seizure localization.

This means that many cases where targets for surgery have been impossible to locate, may now become surgical candidates for life changing epilepsy operations.

Robotic technology has previously been used in other neurosurgical cases, however, this is the first use of the Neuromates Robot, which was developed by Local company Renishaw, to treat a paediatric epilepsy case in Bristol. The epilepsy surgery service at BCH already has 8 other epilepsy patients lined up to receive the treatment.

Michelle Seymour, epilepsy lead nurse at Bristol Children's Hospital, said: "This new treatment is a part of process we follow during the epilepsy programme, when trying to identify children that might be helped by helped by definitive surgery.

"Invasive recordings are an important part of the process for selected patients. This new development is better tolerated by younger patients and offers considerable safety advantages as well."

The new technique means a lower risk of infection for patients and also allows important brain areas and blood vessels to be identified and avoided during electrode implantation. Patients fitted with electrodes undergo a period of recording under close supervision by the epilepsy surgery team. Normal medications are reduced to allow seizures to develop and the patterns of electrical activity recorded analysed.  If a defined seizure origin can be identified away from important functional, it may then be removed at a subsequent operation.

Michael Carter, consultant neurosurgeon at Bristol Children's Hospital, said: "I am delighted to announce the robotic stereotactic EEG was a success both technically and clinically. This procedure was the culmination of an enormous amount of work by many people in the epilepsy and theatre teams, and would not have been possible without the funding provided by The Grand Appeal."

"Billy recovered well from the procedure and we obtained superb data from the recording electrodes that will allow us to treat his intractable epilepsy surgically.

"This event  represents a revolutionary transition into the 21st century for epilepsy surgery in Bristol and the South West and absolutely cements our credentials as a premier paediatric epilepsy surgery facility not only for this city, but comparable with anything  worldwide."


Billy Whitaker said: "The possibility of being seizure free means I will be able to take part in sports like football and rugby again. I love playing sport and continue to play golf but since my epilepsy diagnosis I can no longer play for teams as this often increases the number of seizures I have.

"It is exciting to be the first patient to have been treated at the hospital with this technique, especially as I and my family have travelled all the way from Cornwall. Although it is sometimes boring being monitored, the care I have received and the nurses who have treated me, have inspired me to look at the potential of working for the NHS and in a hospital."


The Grand Appeal has raised over £31 million to support sick babies and children at Bristol Children's Hospital and the Special Care Baby Unit at St Michael's Hospital providing life-saving equipment, patient activities, new services and family accommodation. The Appeal runs Cots for Tots House - a 12 bedded family accommodation unit for the parents of critically ill babies treated in the Special Care Baby Unit. For more information about Cots for Tots, visit .

Bristol Children's Hospital is one of the UK's leading children's hospitals treating patients from across the South West, South Wales and beyond with life-threatening illnesses and serves as the paediatric intensive care centre for the whole South West region. The hospital is an international, national and regional specialist centre of excellence for a range of services including neurosurgery, burns, cardiac, leukaemia and bone marrow transplants.

For more information, visit