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Crestwood offers cutting-edge NeuRx DPS implant for ALS patients

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A new device designed to help amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients who develop chronic hypoventilation is now available at Crestwood Medical Center, hospital administrators announced Friday.

Dr. Peter Vevon, a general surgeon in Huntsville, is among the first surgeons in the United States to implant the NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System, which was just recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Vevon is also the first surgeon — and Crestwood Medical Center the first hospital — in Alabama to complete the implant.

“Most ALS patients develop chronic hypoventilation over the course of their disease. Traditionally, we could only assist them with invasive or non-invasive ventilation,” said Dr. Tejanand Mulpur, neurologist and Co-Medical Director of the ALS Care Clinic at Crestwood Medical Center.

Through clinical review and respiratory testing measures, Carla King was identified as a patient who could potentially benefit from the NeuRx DPS®. King had the procedure completed at Crestwood Medical Center in April and is doing well with no reported complications.

"Being the first in Alabama to have the DPS was exciting and hopeful," said King. "The ALS diagnosis is a frightening and helpless feeling, with no cure or treatment really available. This procedure is such a positive for ALS patients resulting in significantly better breathing and therefore, a better quality of life.”

Once it was determined that the implant could help King, Dr. Raymond P. Onders, Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Professor of Surgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, was contacted to train Vevon on the procedure. Onders was the lead principal investigator for the trial leading to the device’s FDA approval in 2011.

“We are excited about offering the benefits of the NeuRx DPS® at Crestwood Medical Center, including the opportunity for a patient to breathe for a longer period without needing a mechanical ventilator," said Vevon.

The device, implanted through minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, provides electrical stimulation to the muscle and nerves in the diaphragm. When the muscle is stimulated by the implant, the diaphragm contracts which helps condition the muscle to improve fatigue resistance during normal exertion.

For more information about this procedure as it relates to ALS patients, please contact the local ALS Association at 256-519-9030. Patients and caregivers are easily trained in the use of the device, reducing the need for medical supervision.