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Medical Center to ?Webcast? Live Surgical Procedure for Parkinson?s

The world’s first live Internet broadcast of a deep brain stimulator implantation for Parkinson’s disease will take place at 5:00 p.m. EST, Wednesday, April 24, 2002, at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. The potential audience for the “webcast” includes physicians and other health care professionals as well as the lay public.

The program on Wednesday April 24 will be the state’s first live webcast of a surgical procedure of any kind.

The deep brain stimulator therapy was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just three months ago for treatment of all movement symptoms of Parkinson’s, which can include tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity. During the procedure, electrodes are positioned in the patient’s brain and connected to the stimulator, which is implanted under the collarbone.

Stephen Tatter, M.D., a Medical Center neurosurgeon, will perform the operation. “This is a significant advance in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease,” said Tatter, who is among the top 20 most experienced surgeons in the country at implanting the device. “It is intended primarily for patients who no longer get symptom relief from medications, or who cannot tolerate the side effects of medications.

“As we’ve become more experienced positioning the device, we’re able to benefit the majority of movement symptoms that people with Parkinson’s have.” Often the tremors actually stop and the other symptoms improve dramatically during the operation itself.

A study of 138 people with Parkinson’s disease, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the device increased the average time that patients had good mobility – with no involuntary movements –from 27 percent to 74 percent of their day.

The live webcast will begin at 5 p.m. on Wednesday April 24 and can be accessed through the Medical Center’s main web site: www.wfubmc.edu. The webcast will also be archived for viewing anytime during the next year. Information about the webcast, a video preview of the procedure, plus media player requirements are also available on the Medical Center website.

Continuing medical education credit will be offered for the program.

Five more webcasts are planned over the next year-and-a-half. Topics may include laryngoplasty for voice disorders, localized radiation treatment for liver cancers, reflux surgery for infants, use of the Gamma Knife, and implantation of a biventricular pacemaker. More information will be available on the website.

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Media Contact: Mark Wright (336) 716-3382, Jonnie Rohrer (336) 716-6972, or Jim Steele (336) 716-3487.

Editors: A Medical Center audience will watch the live webcast in Babcock Auditorium, providing a good coverage opportunity.

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